Equine parasite resistance: Science on track to find the right genes

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Why don’t scientists target the gene responsible for parasite resistance in horses? Why can’t it just be knocked out?

“I wish it were that simple, but unfortunately it isn’t,” says parasitologist Martin Nielsen.

Drug resistance is made up of many, many genes, Some genes make it mutated and alter the function which can lead to resistance. Others might be up-regulated or down-regulated in response to the dewormer.

“We need to know our enemy before we can outsmart it,” Nielsen says. “Sadly, I think we can say that we haven’t been too smart so far when you think of all the drug resistance.”

That’s where Nielsen’s secret weapon comes in. “With the parasitology research horses, we have a unique system. We can expose parasites to dewormers and then study which genes they activate in response.

“This gives us a unique opportunity to study how to best navigate this genetic landscape of drug resistance, and possibly even identify new drug targets.”

» Read more about the parasitology research horses, and support the Nielsen Parasitology Research Fund.

This is the last edition in Martin Nielsen’s series of online videos to inform horse owners, farm managers and veterinarians about best practices in equine parasitology. Go here to start at the beginning, on October 8, 2019. 

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Follow the Gluck Center: @GluckEquineResearchCenter or on Twitter @UKGluckCenter.

Follow Martin Nielsen on Twitter.

Visit Martin Nielsen’s Network for Good page, and his University of Kentucky page.

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