Canine Health Foundation Grant #01240-A

August 4, 2009 / 5 mins read

This proposal is to develop simple blood tests to detect whether or not a particular dog is hyper-reactive to its own immune cells, which is characteristic of atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis, an autoimmune disease in which dogs develop hypersensitivity to environmental or food allergens, is a common and frustrating canine skin condition. There are few effective therapies and many dogs require prolonged administration of steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs. The only specific cure is skin testing and desensitization treatments over prolonged periods of time, managed by skilled veterinarians. Palliative treatments, including newer immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporine are only partially effective. It is now known that dogs with atopic dermatitis have specific immunological imbalances compared to normal dogs. A new vaccine has been developed that may correct the underlying immunological imbalance, and is showing encouraging results in ongoing trials. Unfortunately, there is at present no convenient, cost-effective way of determining whether or not a particular dog has that immunological imbalance or whether the dog would likely respond to the new vaccine. Fortunately, research has shown that animals and humans with autoimmune disease have serum antibodies against their own T-cell receptors (TCR). This hyper-reactivity can be detected with simple blood tests. However, the tests must be specifically designed for each species (dog, human, etc). This project is to develop screening tests for dogs and to use these tests to determine response to treatment.