Crop Biotech Update

Using CRISPR, US Firm Near to Creating Hypoallergenic Cats

April 6, 2022

Indoor Biotechnologies, a US-based company that manufactures biologics for allergy and asthma, has used CRISPR gene editing technology to delete the protein in cat cells that causes allergy, in the first step towards creating hypoallergenic cats.

Cat allergy affects more than 10 percent of the population, with more than 90 percent of cat allergic patients having the IgE antibodies to the major cat allergen, Fel d 1. Cats secrete Fel d 1 in their saliva and transfer it to their fur when they clean themselves.

Fel d 1 has two different subunits, and two genes, CH1 and CH2,  encode for each subunit. When the Indoor Biotechnologies team compared the sequences of the CH1 and CH2 genes in domestic cats with those in other cat species such as lions, tigers, cougars, and fishing cats, they found many changes. The changes in the sequence of genes with key functions suggest that Fel d 1 is not essential. The only way to find out is to see what happens to cats without any Fel d 1.

Using CRISPR, the team at Indoor Biotechnologies, led by Senior Scientist Nicole Brackett, deleted either the CH1 or the CH2 gene from cat cells growing in culture using CRISPR. Their next step will be to delete all copies of the two genes at once, to confirm that this prevents cells from making the Fel d 1 protein. Only then would the team try to create cats that lack the genes.

For more details, read the article in the NewScientist, or download the poster presentation from Indoor Biotechnologies. The paper detailing the results of this study is available in the CRISPR Journal.

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