Monday, September 25, 2006

Hypoallergenic cats go on sale

People who are allergic to cats can now have them as pets thanks to a US biotech firm. It has created specially-bred hypoallergenic cats and they are on sale now at US$3950 per kitten. From BBC:
US biotech firm Allerca says it has managed to selectively breed them by reducing a certain type of protein that triggers allergic reactions.

The cats will not cause the red eyes, sneezing and even asthma that some cat allergy sufferers experience, except in the most acute cases.

...It tested huge numbers of cats trying to find the tiny fraction which do not carry the glycoprotein Fel d1 - contained in its saliva, fur and skin - which produces allergies.

Those cats were then used to breed the hypoallergenic cats.

The company's Steve May told the BBC that it is a natural, if time consuming method.

"This is a natural gene divergence within the cat DNA - one out of 50,000 cats will have this natural divergence," he said.

"So candidates, natural divergent cats were found and then bred so there is really no modification of the gene."
You can buy one of these kittens here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To what degree exactly did they reduce the allergenic gene? Unfortunately they can't even tell that! What they CAN tell precisely is that their cat costs 3950 USD, that's where they are surprisingly precise. A gene knockout done properly would have been more precise, but also much more work and would have required showing exactly that and what they really deleted, but that obviously requires personnel that would probably prefer to do more interesting work.