The research is one step closer to matching allergy sufferers and dogs

Forskningen ett steg närmare att matcha allergiker och hundar

New study on birch pollen and yeasts in the dog's fur, as well as allergy matching between dog and human. We spoke with Guro Gafvelin, who is associate professor of immunology at the Karolinska Institutet, about what is currently going on in research on fur allergy. - We have access to a database, thanks to those who tested their dogs for allergens, which is of great use for our research, says Guro Gafvelin.

Today, it is possible to test your dog's various allergens, i.e. the substances to which an allergy sufferer reacts. To see how high the levels are of the various allergens, you can perform a simple test allergen test where you brush your dog systematically at one time to capture allergen from the skin.

- The tests help the consumer find out the allergen content of their dog. In addition, they contribute to research on fur allergy. We will eventually be able to compile statistics on this and possibly find new connections between characteristics of different dogs and their allergen content. In this way, we get factual basis for new angles, says Guro Gafvelin.

The database – a great asset

That there are no allergen-free breeds has already been established in previous studies. But with the unique database of test results from nearly 300 dogs so far, research on different dogs can continue. To help, the researchers have information about each dog that the owners themselves filled in, which is of great use to the researchers in their work to find connections between the characteristics of the dogs and their allergen levels.

Guro Gafvelin believes that the results of this research can potentially be used for several purposes. On the one hand, the people who contributed to the research get to take part in the results and, with the help of these, understand how fur allergy works, and above all, varies. It can also help families when choosing a puppy, who have decided to get a dog despite allergies. Furthermore, the information can be used in breeding and breeding, which in the long run can be supported based on research results.

Allergy matching through a simple blood test

Currently, there is a close collaboration between the Karolinska Institutet and Medi-Tec which deals with allergy matching. Through a simple blood test, which you should be able to do at home, you can see exactly which of the dog's six different allergens you react to. Simply how many IgE antibodies you as a human have against the allergens that the dog secretes, and which are the cause of the allergic symptoms. For the test to come to market, some work is still required. The practical part is about designing a blood sample test for home use. The technology to then match the samples with the person's unique allergy profile is planned to be available at the turn of the year. Guro believes that there is some uncertainty as to whether the puppy's profile is the same when the dog grows up. In order to establish dogs' change in allergen profile, long-term studies will be conducted where puppies are followed while they grow up. With more data, researchers will be more certain of what that change looks like.

Studies on birch pollen, mites and yeasts

Guro Gafvelin and her colleagues have a hypothesis that dogs are potential carriers of other types of allergen – for example pollen. That would explain why some people who do not have IgE against dog allergens still get allergic problems when in contact with dogs. The researchers will initially investigate the presence of birch pollen as there are analytical methods for it. In addition, it is precisely birch that most allergy sufferers react to. Currently, there is no similar study, which makes it important to understand the whole of allergic reactions to fur animals.

- It is entirely possible that dogs spread pollen and other allergens via their fur into the indoor environment, which in turn can cause problems for people with other types of allergies, without it being an allergy to the dog's own allergens.

Guro Gafvelin, Docent in immunology.

The expression "wet dog" carries some associations for most of us. Not infrequently, many people think of a special smell that is not always so fragrant. The magazine Härliga hund wrote earlier last autumn how it is that dogs can smell so bad - especially when they are wet. According to the article, this is because microorganisms in the form of bacteria, yeast and even traces of feces found in dogs' fur are released when the fur gets wet. Read the full article here .

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet are planning a study on yeasts and bacteria in fur. The microorganisms in the fur can cause both allergic and other problems for us humans because we often live closely with our dogs.

- There can be particles, such as mites and bacteria, in the skin of dogs that can spread to us humans. Mites and bacteria thrive in moisture and heat, which makes fur a good place to live. That knowledge might motivate more people to wash their dog, says Guro.

How pollen, mites and yeasts can be transferred from dog to human is currently an unexplored area. If these particles can cause problems for humans, it is likely that the dog's health and skin will also be affected. One way to improve the lives of both dogs and humans could be to remove these microorganisms by washing the fur.

- This study will help us understand how bacteria can spread, which is important as fur animals occur both in care environments and at home, as well as how we can avoid it.

The long-term goal of research into fur allergens is to produce a fur vaccine, but at the moment there is a lack of full funding to test the vaccine for treatment of patients. Read our previous article on the subject of vaccines here . Read more about the work with the vaccine here .