The same skin allergies and rashes make dogs and humans itch, but dogs don’t often develop lung allergies like humans. Allergies in all species occur when the immune system, which normally fights infections, mistakenly attacks a harmless allergen like pollen. However, we don’t understand why some species are more prone to certain allergic diseases and how the immune system can work for an animal during infection, and against it during allergy.
To answer these questions, Tait Wojno studies parasitic worm infections and allergies in multiple species. She and her team investigate how dog, mouse, and human immune systems function to create good responses that control infections or bad responses that lead to allergies. Specifically, they are looking at how rare types of white blood cells called basophils and innate lymphoid cells contribute to immune responses during worm infections and allergies.
Through this work, Tait Wojno hopes to fill a major gap in our understanding of why different species suffer from different types of allergies. This research may also help to reveal how the immune system can have both good and bad effects in all species.