Sigurbjörg Þorsteinsdóttir

Dr. Med. Sc. Immunologist at the Institute of Experimental Pathology, University of Iceland, Keldur



E-mail: sibbath (at) 
Phone: +354-585 5100

Institute for Experimental Pathology, University of Iceland Keldur, v/Vesturlandsveg, IS-112 Reykjavik, Iceland

Sigurbjörg Þorsteinsdóttir did her undergraduate studies in biology at University of Iceland 1979. She worked one year at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia on production of monoclonal antibodies and following that established that technique at Keldur. She did her doctoral studies at The Tumorbiology, Karolinska Institutet Stockholm. Her doctoral work was on the role of T cells in the control of  Epstein Barr virus transformed B cells, and various aspects of B cell differentiation, functions and malignancies. After returning to Iceland 1989 Sigurbjörg worked at Keldur first studying the Maedi-visna lentivirus in sheep mainly the immune response in infection and development of vaccine against the virus. Then as a project leader for a research program on insect bite hypersensitivity in horses.

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Since the year 2000 the main research has been on insect bite hypersensitivity (IBH) or summer eczema of horses. The IBH project is a collaborative project of Keldur and the Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Bern, Switzerland. The aim of the project is to develop a curative (desensitisation) and preventive therapy (vaccination) by using purified allergens or the allergen genes. We have isolated and produced the initiating allergens. Our results on the immune response causing IBH indicate that there is an imbalance between Th1, Th2 and T regulatory cells. It should therefore be possible to rebalance the T cell response and restraint the inflammatory mechanisms. The following approaches are being tried: 1) Using purified recombinant allergens in an adjuvant injected into lymph nodes. Experiments with vaccinations of healthy horses at Keldur and desensitisation of horses with IBH in Switzerland, trying different adjuvants are ongoing. 2) Using allergen genes on a viral vectors injected into a lymph node. One recombinant vector with one allergen is ready and is being tested in horses. 3) Mucosal immunotherapy feeding horses with barley expressing recombinant allergens. Allergens are expressed in barley in collaboration with ORF Genetics. Three allergens have been expressed in barley and treatment of horses with barley flour is being tried. For more detailed information see the homepage of Keldur:


The IBH research group at Keldur

Sigurbjörg Þorsteinsdóttir immunologist

Vilhjálmur Svansson veterinarian/virologist

Sigríður Jónsdóttir biologist, PhD student. Title of project: Development of immunotherapy for insect bite hypersensitivity of horses.

Lilja Þorsteinsdóttir biologist, PhD student. Title of project: Development of viral vectors for vaccination against insect bite hypersensitivity of horses.

Sæmundur Bjarni Kristínarson molecular biologist, MSc student. Title of project: Development of immunotherapy for insect bite hypersensitivity of horses: Comparison of recombinant allergens from different expression systems.

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