There have been many research efforts describing the progression of dog allergies, but very few studies to try to cure people of them.
Now, researchers looking to artificially induce immune tolerance have for the first time identified candidates for those parts of the molecules that make up dog allergens—which could give us a ‘dog allergy vaccine’.
Being allergic to dogs is a common malady and one that is growing worldwide. Over the years, scientists have been able to identify seven different dog allergens — molecules or molecular structures that bind to an antibody and produce an unusually strong immune response that would normally be harmless.
These seven are named Canis familiaris allergens 1 to 7 (Can f 1-7). But while there are seven, just one, Can f 1, is responsible for the majority (50-75 percent) of reactions in people allergic to dogs. It is found in dogs’ tongue tissue, salivary glands, and their skin.
Researchers have yet to identify Can f 1’s IgE epitopes — those specific parts of the antigens that are recognized by the immune system and stimulate or ‘determine’ an immune response (which is why epitopes are also called antigen determinants). More specifically, epitopes are short amino acid sequences making up part of a protein that induces the immune response.
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