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Faculty Spotlight: Jijun Hao & Gagandeep Kaur

WesternU CVM Researchers Receive Grant from ACVD to Identify Biomarkers in Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Dr. Jijun Hao, PhD
Dr. Gagandeep Kaur, DVM, PhD

FEB. 2020 – Western University of Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine Associate Professor Jijun Hao, PhD, and Associate Professor Dr. Gagandeep Kaur, DVM, PhD, have received a grant from the American College of Veterinary Dermatology to examine the sensitivity and specific of some ‘promising’ biomarkers to canine Atopic Dermatitis.

The project titled “Development of Biomarkers for Canine Atopic Dermatitis” is led by Dr. Jijun Hao (PI) and Dr. Gagandeep Kaur of WesternU CVM (Co-PI). Dr. Charli Dong from the Animal Dermatology Clinic in Pasadena will collaborate on this project.

Atopic Dermatitis is a common, pruritic, inflammatory skin disorder in dogs, and no specific diagnostic biomarkers are available for this disease to date. The current diagnosis relies on a combination of patient history, clinical signs, and exclusion of other diseases with clinical presentations, which can be time-consuming and costly.

The previous pilot study of Dr. Hao and his team has revealed a panel of potential ‘biomarkers’ that appear promising—they are currently working to examine the sensitivity and specificity of these ‘biomarkers’ in order to develop reliable biomarkers specific to canine Atopic Dermatitis.

“Success of this project could potentially lead to a major breakthrough in the establishment of reliable biomarkers for early, more accurate diagnosis of canine Atopic Dermatitis,” Dr. Hao explained, “it will make early treatments possible, while improving the life quality of affected dogs, will significantly simplifying the canine Atopic Dermatitis disease scoring system, and lead to better prediction of disease prognosis.”

If successful, dogs, dog owners, and veterinary doctors will benefit from this research: earlier diagnosis of disease in dogs will allow timely medical intervention, which could minimize patient suffering. Importantly, the new findings may have the translational potential in the development of biomarkers for the disease in humans.

The results of this project can be expected to be presented at a national/international meeting within the next two years.