Scientists at Ludwig Maximilians University’s Department of Veterinary Medicine in Munich, Germany, are applying nanoscale molecule research in human allergy suppression to horses. In a recent study the team designed and administered a nanoparticleto deliver CpG-ODN (an immunostimulating DNA that has been shown to suppress allergies in humans) to horses with recurrent airway obstruction (RAO, or heaves); the study yielded promising results.

"CpG-ODN works by producing an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL 10) that modulates the immune system to ‘switch away’ from the allergy and inflammatory reaction," said researcher Heidrun Gehlen, PhD, DrMedVet, Dipl. ECEIM.

Immunotherapy is the treatment of disease by modulating the immune response. Its goal is to target the allergic response directly to suppress hyperallergic reactions involved in airway inflammation. Nanoparticles are man-made devices that can deliver immunotherapy directly to cells, targeting the specific molecular mechanisms of inflammation.

To test the nanoparticle’s ability to deliver the drug, the researchers measured the cytokine levels in washes from two groups of horses’ respiratory systems. A group of healthy horses and a group of RAO-affected horses inhaled an aerosol formulation of the nontoxic nanoparticle/drug combination, and the researchers examined them for clinical signs of recurrent airway obstruction.

In both groups, the nanoparticle-bound drug triggered anti-inflammatory/anti-allergic cytokines after only five consecutive inhalations, showing rapid delivery of the drug. The percentage of neutrophils (white