It is a disease that has taken the life of Black Caviar's brother, the most expensive yearling sold at public auction in Australia, but to the average horse owner laminitis is a killer that often strikes without warning.
Dr Melody de Laat, from QUT's Science and Engineering Faculty, said laminitis — also commonly known as Founder — was a complex and painful condition of the horse's hoof and that it could affect up to 34 per cent of the equine population.
"It is the second most common cause of death in domestic horses due to euthanasia and one of the most common reasons horse owners seek veterinary advice," Dr de Laat said.
"It strikes fear in the heart of any horse owner because it is difficult to treat and there is no cure."
In a bid to counter the deadly effects of laminitis, QUT is conducting a worldwide study to understand what predisposes horses to repeatedly fall prey to this chronic disease.
"The QUT Laminitis Study is trying to find out how frequently different forms of laminitis recur, because once a horse develops the disease it is at greater risk of re-occurrence," she said.