Itchy eyes, stuffy nose, scratchy throat.
They’re all symptoms of a cold. But they’re also symptoms of something an estimated 25 percent of Americans suffer from at any given time — cat allergies.
That’s why a local allergy doctor is looking for volunteers for a major clinical research study for an investigational medicine that help treat symptoms with fewer symptoms than current treatments.
Dr. John Winder of the Toledo Center for Clinical Research, is conducting the study locally. It is one of 77 sites across the country participating in the study, which is called CATALYST. The study has already gone through two other phases of clinical trials, which means the medicine used has been found to be safe. This is the last phase the treatment will go through before being evaluated by the FDA.
“As an allergist, I have been waiting for something like this for a long time, “ Winder said. “Cats are part of the family, and right now, people have to make an extraordinary effort to avoid cats and create an oasis to stay away from them.”
Winder said that cat allergies are exasperated in the winter months when allergens become trapped inside home ventilation systems and are circulated around cat owners’ homes.
“Cat allergens are a very potent allergen,” Winder said. “People do things to avoid being exposed like creating an oasis in a bedroom or installing a HEPA filter. You can be immunized, and you can take over-the-counter medicine.”
With the new approach to treating cat allergies in the CATALYST study, allergy sufferers would receive eight injections spaced four weeks apart. The number of injections is far fewer than weekly or monthly immunotherapy injections that some allergy sufferers receive for as long as five years.
Winder said that they’re hoping to recruit Toledo area allergy sufferers who might benefit from the medication.
“A lot of people don’t seek treatment for this. A lot of times people are afraid to because when they go to the doctor, they’ll just tell you to get rid of the cat,” Winder said. “People don’t have to suffer with this. There are 100 million cats in the U.S. alone. This is an opportunity for people to see if they can get some relief.”
To qualify for the CATALYST study, you must be between the ages 0f 12 and 65, live with a cat, and have been diagnosed with a cat allergy for at least two years. The trial is focused on people with moderate to severe symptoms. Participants in the study are not required to have insurance, will receive all exams and medication at no cost, and compensation for time and travel may be provided.
Winder cautioned that the FDA has not yet approved the investigational medication, and that participants will be informed about the previous trials.
“We’re working to bring this to the market. Once it gets to the FDA, I’m quite certain we will hear about it all over the country,” Winder said.
To participate in the CATALYST Study, call 1-844-CAT-STUDY or (419) 885-5755. You can also visit the study’s website, www.thecatallergystudy.com.