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Dermatology Service Seeks Participants for Canine Atopic Dermatitis Study Involving Nerve Endings

The Dermatology Service at North Carolina State University’s Veterinary Health Complex is seeking participants for a two-phase clinical trial. The study, which will take place during an eight to 12-week period, will test the efficacy of an injected drug developed to calm nerve endings responsible for chronic itching. Investigators would like to have 10 dogs participate.   

Dr. Bizikova“The treatment will consist of an injection that will block a key molecule—the Nerve growth factor or NGF—that is responsible for the growth of nerve endings,” says Petra Bizikova, assistant professor in dermatology. “We are hoping that a single administration of the antibody will reduce allergy-related itch and that it will postpone the onset of a flare, possibly for weeks to months.”

According to Dr. Bizikova, the NGF molecule has been shown to play an important role in the promotion of itch in humans and mice and an injection of anti-NGF antibody reduces itch and skin lesions in a mouse model of skin allergies. The anti-NGF is currently not tested in people with atopic dermatitis but is in clinical study for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

To qualify for the study, dogs should have signs of non-seasonal moderate or severe atopic dermatitis and demonstrable anti-IgE antibodies detected by serum or intradermal skin allergy tests.

Participating owners will be expected to bring their dog to maximum of eight visits, four weeks apart. At the beginning of each phase, the dog will receive a month-long course of anti-allergic doses of steroids together with a single intravenous injection of anti-NGF antibody at the beginning of one phase and saline (placebo) at the beginning of the other phase. Each phase will be completed as soon as the itching increases above a moderate level.

Owners will be responsible for rating the level of itch once daily using a provided form. Blood and urine will be collected at the beginning of each phase and at each recheck visit during the phase in which the anti-NGF antibody is injected. Visits, medications, and all laboratory tests conducting during the study are covered by the funded grant.

Owners will receive free veterinary services valued at $300 if their dogs qualify for participation. For more information on this study, call the NC State Dermatology Service at (919) 513-6543 or email

Posted August 9, 2013