Present M.Sc. Ph.D. and Projects

Development of Immunotherapy for Equine Insect Bite Hypersensitivity

PhD student Sara Björk Stefánsdóttir, MSc
Master of Science from Faculty of Medicine University of Iceland 2015. Available from:


PhD committee:
Sigurbjörg Þorsteinsdóttir, (Dr. Med. Sc.) biologist/immunologist at Keldur
Vilhjálmur Svansson, (Ph.D.) veterinarian/virologist at Keldur
Eliane Marti, (PhD, Dr. Med. Vet.) veterinarian/immunologist at the Vetsuisse faculty University of Berne
Jón Már Björnsson, (Ph.D.) molecular biologist, director of gene technology at ORF Genetics
Arna Rúnarsdóttir, (Ph.D.) biochemist, director of protein technology at ORF Genetics.
The PhD project started in 2018
Insect bite hypersensitivity (IBH) is an allergy with production of IgE antibodies and imbalance between T cells, caused by allergens of biting midges (Culicoides ssp.) not indigenous to Iceland. The prevalence of IBH is high in exported Icelandic horses. Numerous of the causative allergens have been isolated and expressed. Experimental vaccination intralymphatic and intradermal using purified allergens with adjuvants resulted in TH1-focused immune response. Healthy horses treated with recombinant barley produced allergen specific antibodies that blocked binding of IgE to the allergen. The aim of the project is to develop immunotherapy against IBH:

I) Preventive immunotherapy, vaccination of horses intralymphatic or subcutaneous with pure allergens in adjuvant. Then a challenge experiment will be performed were vaccinated horses and controls will be exported to Culicoides infested areas.
II) Curative oral immunotherapy with transgenic barley. Four allergens will be expressed in barley and the method in progress will be expanded.
D.Ph. project of Lilja Þorsteinsdóttir 
Started in May 2010

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