Allergies: how the immune system can make your pet miserable

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Dr. Elia Tait Wojno has been busy exploring the immune system when it functions correctly (to eliminate parasites) and when it malfunctions (resulting in allergic disease).

  • Similarities between dog and human allergies. Tait Wojno and her team have studied blood samples from dozens of canine patients at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, including dogs with skin itching, redness, rashes, and other allergic signs, and dogs without allergies. They found that allergic dogs have a specific type of immune cell in their blood, cells also found in allergic humans and mice. The discovery means that human treatments for these types of allergic signs could also work in canine medicine.
  • Studying how lipids affect inflammation. To help identify new therapies for allergies and infection, Tait Wojno is exploring how the oily molecules called lipids affect the process of inflammation. Inflammation is common to both allergic disease and also to the host immune responses to parasitic worms, so some of the available drugs that act on lipids could be used to treat allergies or fight parasitic infections.
  • Exploring how the immune system develops. In collaboration with scientists here at Cornell and at the University of Rochester, Tait Wojno’s laboratory has begun studying how the cells of the immune system develop over a lifetime and what happens to make it all work correctly in animals and humans of different ages.