Equine research funded
(February 7, 2011) - Morris Animal Foundation has awarded funding to two College of Veterinary Medicine researchers for equine health studies.
Identifying Susceptibility of ‘Tying Up’ in Thoroughbreds
Dr. Krista Fritz, post-doctoral fellow in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department, was awarded a fellowship training grant for the study “Identifying Susceptibility of ‘Tying Up’ in Thoroughbreds.”
The most common form of tying up is recurrent exertional rhabdomyolysis (RER), a heritable skeletal muscle disorder that affects the health and performance of up to 10 percent of all thoroughbred horses. It is characterized by a stiff gait, muscle cramping, pain, and reluctance to move after mild to moderate exercise. RER appears to be a novel genetic defect that is influenced by gender and environmental factors. With this training grant, Krista will work with a team of equine scientists that have identified several chromosomal loci that contribute significantly to RER susceptibility. This research will define the genetic cause for RER susceptibility in thoroughbreds, provide practical DNA-based testing that can be used to identify horses susceptible to RER, allow targeted treatment regimens to be selected to manage this frustrating condition, and lead the way toward identifying genetic loci for complex and gender-influenced traits in horses.
Studying Susceptibility of Gray Horses to Skin Cancer
Dr. Molly McCue, assistant professor, Veterinary Population Medicine Department, received a grant for the study “Studying Susceptibility of Gray Horses to Skin Cancer.”
Melanoma, a primary skin tumor, affects about 80 percent of gray horses over the age of 15. Although melanomas begin as small, slow-growing tumors, most of them metastasize to distant sites over time, resulting in systemic complications and decreased longevity. Gray coat color predisposes horses to the formation of dermal melanomas. However, some gray horses seem to be protected from the development of melanoma. The reason for the decreased incidence of melanoma in these horses is unclear. This study will classify melanoma patients into risk categories based on genetic predispositions. The goal is to provide veterinarians with information that will help them identify patients that are candidates for early intervention, when therapy options are more plentiful. While the focus of this study is the quarter horse, the data obtained can be extrapolated to any breed in which both the gray and chestnut mutations occur.
About Morris Animal Foundation
Morris Animal Foundation, a world leader in supporting research to prevent, diagnose, treat, and cure disease in companion animals, horses, llamas, and wildlife, has committed to funding nearly 30 new and continuing large animal health studies in 2011. Over the next three years, nearly $1.7 million is committed toward equine health and welfare research and about $110,000 will go toward llama/alpaca health research. Funding will be provided to established researchers, new researchers and veterinarians pursuing advanced study.