Laminitis, EHV and racehorse injuries at forefront of new equine research


Nearly $US1.5 million has been earmarked for 11 new equine research projects this year, as well as the renewal of eight further two-year projects.

The sum of $1,483,542 is the highest ever provided in one year by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, which dates from the creation of the original Grayson Foundation in 1940.

The foundation received 61 research proposals from university researchers across North America and six foreign countries. Projects are rated on the potential immediate impact on numerous horses as well as the scientific method proposed and budgetary efficiency.

“This is a bright and memorable moment in the history of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation,” said longtime chairman Dell Hancock.

“It is really gratifying to know that we are funding nearly $1.5 million dollars in critical equine research, and we realize it would not be possible without the dedication and support of our members, our donors and all those who participate in our various fund-raising events each year.”

The funded projects were considered the best science by the foundation’s 32-person Research Advisory Committee, comprising university researchers and veterinarians from various practices.

“Our funding this year featured a balanced set of projects covering a broad set of problems,” said Dr Johnny Mac Smith, veterinary consultant for the foundation. “They ranged in nature from laminitis and nutraceutical components to two extremely pertinent grants dealing with the persistent problem of EHV-1.”

Grayson is also supporting further investigation of injuries in North American racehorses at the University of Glasgow.

“This project has support from The Jockey Club and is an ongoing result of a plan initiated at the first Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in 2006,” said Dr Steve Reed of Rood and Riddle, who serves as chairman of the RAC. “It is identifying aspects of training and scheduling that produce additional risk of injury.”

The 2017 slate of projects brings the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation totals since 1983 to 346 projects at 43 institutions for a total of $24,836,711.

Two career development awards, of $15,000 each, have also been awarded. The Storm Cat Career Development Award has been won by Shavahn C Loux, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center. Her project will be analyzing the microRNA (miRNA) population in mares throughout normal gestation, as well as during experimentally induced placentitis.

The Elaine Klein Development Award has been won by Sarah Jacob from Michigan State University. Dr Jacob and Dr Patty Weber of the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine will be working in collaboration with Dr Molly McCue of the University of Minnesota on the project entitled, “Biomarkers of Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Age and Diet”.

The research projects are:

Endocrinopathic Laminitis: Pathoshysiology and Treatment (James Belknap, Ohio State University – First Year [2 Year Grant]): This study will determine if continuous digital hypothermia is effective and therefore indicated in the management of endocrinopathic laminitis, the most common form of the disease.

Anticoagulants as Thromboprophylaxis for Equine Herpesvirus-1 Infection (Tracy Stokol, Cornell University – One Year): If we can block blood clotting with drugs, we may prevent abortion and neurological disease from occurring in horses infected with EHV-1.

Platelet Lysate Therapy in Infectious Arthritis (Lauren Schnabel, North Carolina State University – First Year [2 Year Grant]): This proposal examines the antibacterial properties of platelets to treat joint infections in horses more effectively than conventional therapies, with the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality.

Metabolomic Profiling of Placentitis Biomarkers in Mares (Christopher Bailey, North Carolina State University – One Year)Metabolomic profiling of mares with placentitis will allow development of screening and specific assays to improve treatment outcome.

Evaluation of Kisspeptins in the Pregnant Mare (Christianne Magee, Colorado State University – First Year [2 Year Grant]): This proposal will allow us to gain insight as to how kisspeptins are involved in equine pregnancy and if they can serve as a biomarker for pregnancy compromise.

Bone Marrow Mononuclear Cells for Equine Joint Therapy (Linda Dahlgren, Virginia Maryland CVM– First Year [2 Year Grant]): The results from this study will pave the way to investigate a new cell therapy from equine bone marrow as a targeted regenerative therapy for horses suffering from arthritis.

Predicting the Risk of Equine Fatal Injury During Racing (Tim Parkin, University of Glasgow – First Year [2 Year Grant])We will use the Equine Injury Database (EID) to better predict and identify horses at greatest risk of fatal injury during racing and provide measures to further reduce the number of horses dying on North American racetracks.

Cytotoxic T-Cell Immunity to Equine Herpesvirus Type 1 (Doug Antczak, Cornell University – First Year [2 Year Grant]): This research will develop critically needed knowledge about how the horse immune system responds to equine herpesvirus type1 vaccination and infection.

Is Exercise-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage (EIPG) a Consequence of High Left Atrial Pressures? (Warwick Bayly, Washington State University – One Year): We will test the theory that EIPH occurs because very high pressures in the left side of the heart during exercise result in pressures in the lungs’ smallest vessels that cause them to break and bleed.

Ethyl Pyruvate Improves Survival in Large Colon Volvulus (Susan Holcombe, Michigan State University – One Year): The results of this proposed clinical trial will demonstrate the effectiveness of ethyl pyruvate to decrease intestinal damage and improve survival in horses with large colon volvulus.

Synovial Oxylipid Profiles: Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids (John Caron, Michigan State University – One Year): This project is an important first step in establishing science-based guidelines for the nature and amount of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids that will prevent or delay osteoarthritis in horses.

Thyro-Hyoid Muscle Training to Treat DDSP (Normand Ducharme, Cornell University – Second Year): (DDSP is Dorsal Displacement of the Soft Palate.) A better knowledge of DDSP mechanism will give the basis for new treatment options and prophylactic training methods to prevent or reduce the occurrence of DDSP in young horses starting training.

A Novel Vaccine Against Equine Strangles (Noah Cohen, Texas A&M University – Second Year)We have a new concept for a vaccine to protect horses against the disease known as Strangles and have good preliminary data suggesting this vaccine will be safe and effective.

Fitness and Persistence of Drug Resistant R. Equi (Steeve Giguère, University of Georgia– Second Year)We will determine if drug-resistant Rhodococcus equi can persist in the environment and if resistant strains are more likely to cause disease than susceptible strains.

Novel Analgesic Combination in Horses (Alonso Guedes, University of Minnesota – Second Year)We propose to study a novel, likely more efficacious and potentially safer approach than currently available options to manage pain in horses.

Training and Surfaces for Injury Prevention (Susan Stover, University Of California-Davis – Second Year): Risk for bone fracture in the fetlock joint due to training program and race surface properties will be determined using computer models that simulate bone damage and repair.

Host-Directed Control of R. Equi Foal Pneumonia (Angela Bordin, Texas A & M University – Second Year)We propose to use an inhaled product applied directly into the lungs to increase immune responses to protect foals against Rhodococcus equi, a bacterium that causes severe pneumonia in foals.

Unravelling Complex Traits by Defining Genome Function (Carrie Finno, University Of California-Davis – Second Year)This proposal defines the critical next step to understand underlying mechanisms of disease by developing a database of tissue-specific gene expression and regulation in the healthy adult horse.

EHV-1 and Latency (Lutz Goehring, Ludwig Maximilians University – Second Year): We will know about EHV–1 latency locations; about prevalence in horse populations, and if different latency stages exist. Finding ’stages’ will allow us to speculate on interventional strategies.

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