By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Scientists are working on a vaccine that could help people who are allergic to cats. Millions of people are allergic to cats, which is twice as common as dog allergies. Researchers say a medical breakthrough that involves a vaccine given to cats could actually help allergic people from reacting.

Christiane Panis is so allergic to cats that she usually wears a mask when she combs her cat’s fur.

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“When I cough, it’s terrible. Day and night for six months. It’s unbearable,” Panis said.

She considers the cat a beloved family member and rejected suggestions she give the cat away because of her allergies.

Now, Swiss researchers say they’ve developed a vaccine given to cats that could stop allergies in people.

“We are actually really confident that it does what it’s supposed to do,” said Martin Bachmann, chief scientific officer at HypoPet.

HypoPet, a Zurich-based company, has been working on the HypoCat vaccine since 2013. It works by neutralizing the allergens inside the cat.

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The company says the vaccine has worked on all 54 cats it tested.

“So far, we have not seen any signs of abnormalities in the cat,” Bachmann said. “And we have done specific studies looking at safety in young cats.”

Panis is excited about the prospect of vaccinating her cat.

“Oh yes, 100% — 100% I would do that,” she said.

However, she may have to wait a while. The company still needs to get American and European regulators on board and hopes to bring the product to market by 2022.

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It’s important to note that if the vaccine comes to market, it will treat individual cats but will not prevent allergy sufferers from having allergic reactions to all cats.

Stephanie Stahl