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Fargo research facility participating in cat allergy study

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

FARGO – You’d think someone with a cat allergy wouldn’t have a cat in the house.

Well, you’d be surprised. Dr. Michael Lillestol, president of Fargo’s Lillestol Research, was.

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“When I initially took this trial, I thought to myself, ‘If somebody has cat allergies, why would they have a cat in their house?’ But as we went into the trial, I was shocked at how many people actually did have cats in their house,” he says.

His research facility is one of 77 sites in the U.S. and Canada participating in the CATALYST cat allergy study, a Phase 3 clinical trial aimed at determining whether an investigational medicine can effectively treat the symptoms of moderate to severe cat allergy in people who live with cats and have been diagnosed with the condition for at least two years.

According to the study’s website, the most common symptoms of cat allergy include:

• Red, itchy or watery eyes.

• Itchy nose.

• Sneezing.

• Stuffy nose.

• Runny nose.

• Raspy and/or sore throat.

• Persistent throat clearing.

Lillestol Research is looking for participants, who must be between the ages of 12 and 65, have a cat and experience symptoms because of the cat. Insurance isn’t required, and participants will receive exams and medication at no cost. Compensation for time and travel may also be provided.

More than 1,100 are needed for the worldwide study, being funded by Circassia LTD, a specialty biopharmaceutical company that focuses on developing immunotherapies.

The idea is that the new medicine would provide long-lasting symptom relief with only four to eight doses, so sufferers wouldn’t have to take daily prescription or over-the-counter medication or get regularly allergy shots in order to feel better.

Allergen immunotherapy typically begins with once- or twice-weekly injections for several months and gradually tapers in frequency to once monthly, but for as long as three to five years; the average lifespan of an indoor cat is 13 to 17 years.

“It’s something we don’t have available on the market right now,” Lillestol says of the medicine.

Phase 3 means the drug’s been found to be safe and well-tolerated in smaller trials. After this larger-scale trial, Lillestol explains, it could take six months to a year to compile the data to be presented to the Food and Drug Administration for approval.

“It’s a very novel concept, and I actually think if this would work, it would be a great thing for people that have this problem,” he says. “Then, who knows, if this concept works, potentially, you could think of maybe doing this with other kinds of allergies, too.”

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