The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is investing in research studies in hopes of learning more about laminitis and improving treatment options for equine maladies.
The USEA added a $1 “starter fee” at each of its events, which was then donated to the Morris Animal Foundation. After collecting $44,858 in 2017, researchers can start investigating equine science in collaboration with the Morris Animal Foundation. After the Morris Animal Foundation reviews the funding proposals, a committee consisting of riders and veterinarians from the USEA will ultimately decide which studies receive money in collaboration with the Equine Medical Research Committee (EMRC).
There are three main studies approved for funding for 2018.
Dr. Molly E. McCue of the University of Minnesota will conduct the study “Understanding the Roles of Diet and Insulin in Horses at Risk for Laminitis.” Laminitis begins with the diet and ends with the hoof, so researchers are seeking the link between diet and the horse’s gut (microbiome) and metabolism (metabolome) as sugar and starch enter the bloodstream. Current dietary recommendations include limiting starches and sugars, but recent studies have proven that both sugar and starches improve tissue insulin sensitivity, which might be good for horses at risk for laminitis. Conducting this new study will help researchers better understand a diet plan for laminitic horses. The expected total cost for this study is $55,308. The EMRC recommends providing $11,352 for this study.
Dr. Lauren V. Schnabel of North Carolina State University will conduct the study “Improving Stem Cell Treatment Success.” Often, when an injured horse is administered stem cell therapy, its own immune system destroys the foreign transplanted stem cells, acting in response to the perceived threat. Stem cell therapy benefits horses with musculoskeletal injuries, but only if the body accepts them. To improve stem cell therapy success, researchers aim to prevent the immune system from destroying donor stem cells by examining new cell culture treatment. This will help scientists better understand cellular regulation and advance “off-the-shelf” stem cell therapy. The expected total cost for this study is $131,479. The EMRC recommends providing $11,352 for this study.
Dr. Jessica Gilbertie of North Carolina State University will conduct the study “Combating Persistent Joint Infections.” When a joint becomes infected, bacteria becomes intertwined with the joint fluid, making antibiotics powerless. If the bacteria remain in the joint, inflammation and arthritis can take hold in persistent infections. To fight this, researchers plan to analyze the antimicrobial components of platelet-rich plasma which may allow the immune system to recognize the bacteria, work in tandem with the antibiotics and protect the cartilage from damage. This would decrease hospitalization time, cost, pain and suffering. This would benefit not only horses but other species as well, including companion animals. The expected total cost for this study is $100,000. The EMRC recommends providing $11,352 for this study.
A fourth study will also be conducted on equine asthma diseases, with the EMRC recommending $10,800 for this study.