Horses everywhere to benefit from $US1.3m equine research grants

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The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has underwritten 366 projects and more than $27.5 million since 1983. 
The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has underwritten 366 projects and more than $27.5 million since 1983. © Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation

Equine research is a big winner this year with more than $US1.3 million in funding approved by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation for a variety of projects.

As well as the eight new projects at seven universities, the expenditure of $1,338,858 will also fund nine continuing projects three career development awards to fund veterinary research to benefit all horses. It is the fifth consecutive year that more than $1 million has been approved.

Foundation president Jamie Haydon thanked donors, which brought Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation’s totals since 1983 to more than $27.5 million to underwrite 366 projects at 44 universities.

“From studying a racehorse’s stride to predict injury, to testing an intrauterine antibiotic treatment, we are excited to see the results of these studies and how they may help horses of all breeds in the future,” Haydon said.

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has authorized expenditure of $1,338,858 this year.
The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation has authorized expenditure of $1,338,858 this year. © Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation

Dr Larry Bramlage, a partner at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and a member of Grayson’s Research Advisory Committee, said the past year has seen an increased focus on the musculoskeletal system of the racehorse.

“Grayson’s goal has always been to support the most relevant and impactful research on behalf of the horse.

“We are very happy to have three quality musculoskeletal projects focused on better understanding why injuries occur and how to detect and prevent them before they manifest themselves as injuries to the bones and joints of the racehorse,” Bramlage said.

Oaklawn Park and WinStar Farm are each donating $50,000 this year to sponsor research projects pertaining to health in racehorses. They are participants in Grayson’s new corporate membership program, whereby organizations can contribute to Grayson-funded projects.

The new projects, listed alphabetically by university, are:

Antimicrobial Properties of Equine MSCs 
Laurie Goodrich, Colorado State University
This study is expected to impact the equine industry by validating Toll-like Receptor (TLR) activated equine mesenchymal stem cells as an effective, novel therapy in treating multi-drug resistant infections.

Uncovering the Blood B Cell Immune Response to EHV-1 
Tracy Stokol, Cornell University
By sequencing individual blood B cells, this research will identify changes in B cell immunity after EHV-1 vaccination and will generate a sequencing database that will uncover new antibodies against EHV-1.

Intrauterine Antibiotics may Augment Placentitis Therapy
Scott Bailey, North Carolina State University
This proposal will explore the potential for intrauterine antibiotic treatment to improve foal survival and health in mares with ascending placentitis.

Non-Invasive Evaluation of Host-Microbiota Interactions 
Canaan Whitfield-Cargile, Texas A&M
This study aims to develop a non-invasive platform to serve as a diagnostic test for gastrointestinal inflammation prior to severe disease and to reveal how bacteria in the gut influence horse health.

The front feet of the sedated horse are positioned in the center of the ring of the scanner, one at a time. High quality 3D images are captured withing five minutes for each foot.
The front feet of the sedated horse are positioned in the center of the ring of the scanner, one at a time. High quality 3D images are captured within five minutes for each foot. © UC Davis

Standing PET of the Racehorse Fetlock 
Mathieu Spriet, University of California-Davis
This research involves validation of a PET technology for early detection of fetlock lesions in standing horses to prevent catastrophic breakdowns in racehorses.

Training Programs for Prevention of Fetlock Injury
Sue Stover, University of California-Davis
This study is designed to predict proximal sesamoid bone fracture in racehorses from a calibrated computational model that incorporates training programs, track surface properties, and bone’s reparative processes.

Racehorse Stride Characteristics, Injury and Performance
Chris Whitton, University of Melbourne
By identifying changes in stride characteristics of racehorses over time, researchers can identify those parameters that can be used as an early indicator of injury or that are key to injury development. (Sponsored by WinStar Farm)

Chris Whitton of the University of Melbourne is leading research into the stride of the racehorse, looking at early injury indicators.
Chris Whitton of the University of Melbourne is leading research into the stride of the racehorse, looking at early injury indicators. © Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation
Sian Durward-Akhurst
Sian Durward-Akhurst
Lynn Pezzanite Lynn Pezzanite
Holly Stewart

Robotic CT for Assessing of Bone Morphology
Kyla Ortved, University of Pennsylvania
This study strives to prevent catastrophic injuries in the Thoroughbred racehorse by screening fetlock joints using standing robotic CT and biomarker analysis. (Sponsored by Oaklawn Park)

Kline Award Recipient

Sian Durward-Akhurst, University of Minnesota
Dr Akhurt’s project looks at using whole genome sequencing (WGS) to create a catalog of genetic variation in the horse and quantify the number of variants predicted to have a detrimental effect on phenotype. Understanding of the genetic burden in the diverse population of the equine will help in diagnosing, determining prevalence, and lead to ways of dealing with mutation-caused diseases.

Storm Cat Award Recipients

Lynn Pezzanite, Colorado State University
Dr Pezzanite’s project looks at the possible benefits of combining mesenchymal stem cells, known to secrete antimicrobial peptides, into traditional antibiotic therapy for control of joint infections.  If successful, this improves outcomes and reduces reliance on antibiotics to which infections are becoming increasingly resistant.

Holly Stewart, Colorado State University
Bone marrow lesions are known to be early indicators of structural deterioration of the fetlock joint. This project looks to develop a dual energy cone beam CT scan of this area of maladaptive changes with the advantages of reduced scan times, reduced cost, and improved spatial resolution compared to conventional MRI. 

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