Is an Equine IBH Vaccine on the Horizon?

A recently developed vaccine induced high antibody levels and immune responses (signs of immunity) in naive horses.

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There’s good news in the fight against sweet itch—known to scientists as insect bite hypersensitivity (IBH). This seasonal skin condition results from an allergic reaction to the saliva of biting midges (Culicoides). While a fly sheet can help prevent bites and topical creams can help ease the itching, there’s still no way to stop sweet itch from happening.

But thanks to new research in Iceland, a vaccine could soon be available.

“In the next few years an experimental vaccine could be available,” said Sigríður Jónsdóttir, MSc, a biologist at the University of Iceland Institute for Experimental Pathology in Reykjavík. “Currently, no preventive immunotherapy is available, neither for humans (for similar allergic skin conditions) nor animals.”

For this study, Jónsdóttir said she and her fellow researchers benefitted from having access to Iceland’s native horses

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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