Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Sign 357 of the Apocalypse?

Hypoallergenic, Genetically Engineered Cats To Be Sold

Cats To Cost $3,500 In U.S., $10,000 In Japan

POSTED: 8:46 am EDT October 27, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- The biotechnology revolution is shaking up the pet world.

You may soon be able to thank genetic engineering for a cat that won't make you sneeze.

Simon Brodie, president of ALLERCA, said his company is developing a British Short Hair breed of cats that will be nearly free of allergy-causing proteins that plague millions of people. Brodie said his company hopes to perfect its engineering technique by 2007.

"The allergen-free cat, will be a significant new alternative to the traditional treatment of cat allergies given that it eliminates the allergen at its source. People who have lived without the companionship of a household pet because of their allergies will now be able to have a pet of their own without the associated risks and costs of allergy treatments," Brodie said. "The allergen-free cats ... will allow consumers to enjoy the love and companionship of a pet without the cost, inconvenience, risk and limited effectiveness of current treatments."

Brodie said the company will use "RNA interference" to "silence" a gene in cats that produces the irritant, which is excreted through saliva and the skin.

People who are allergic to cats experience moderate to severe allergic and asthmatic symptoms when they come into contact with a cat. In severe cases, an allergic reaction to cats can result in respiratory failure and death.

ALLERCA is now accepting $350 deposits for the biotech cats. They'll sell for $3,500 in the United States and $10,000 Japan.

The four-person company has yet to engineer any cats. ALLERCA expects to sell over 200,000 allergen-free cats each year in the United States when they become available in 2008, with a similar number sold internationally.


What if these things breed with non-altered cats? We simply don't understand the genome enough to be releasing organisms into the wild like this. In the same way that a carrier of sickle-cell anemia is immune to malaria, the proteins that cats carry that are allergens to us might have an unforeseen purpose. Geez, people.


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