New Slate of Research Projects to Be Launched

A dozen new equine research projects will be launched soon as a result of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation's latest allocation of funds. The Foundation's board of directors met in Florida on Feb. 26 and approved 11 new projects. The Foundation will also fund a project on properties of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy and is in the process of inviting researchers to submit proposals. Most of the new research involves two-year projects, which will be funded along with five second-year projects begun last year.

Given the expectation that the new projects will progress on schedule and be funded in their second year, this slate represents a commitment of more than $1 million for equine research. The Foundation's total during the last two decades now exceeds $9 million for funding of 163 projects at 27 universities. Board members of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation are: John Hettinger (chairman), Dr. A. Gary Lavin (vice chairman), Josephine Abercrombie, William Backer, Lucy Young Boutin, William Condren, Allan Dragone, Allaire duPont, William S. Farish, John Goodman, Dell Hancock, Joseph W. Harper, Leverett Miller, Ogden Mills Phipps, Dr. Hiram Polk Jr., Dr. Jack Robbins, and Joseph V. Shields Jr. Following are the new projects to be launched via Grayson-Jockey Club funding.

Identification of Immunology Proteins Specific to Strangles
Dr. John Timoney, University of Kentucky

Strangles exacts considerable loss to the horse industry, including need for quarantine, prolonged treatment and even death. Despite progress in understanding of the disease, its causes, and a horse's immune response, a safe and effective vaccine is not yet available. This project is aimed to identify as yet unrecognized components of the Streptococcus equi and can lead to improvement of new-generation strangles vaccine.

Analysis of Semen in Unexplained Infertility Cases
Dr. Steven P. Brinsko, Texas A & M University

Some of the infertility found in stallions affects horses which pass routine fertility exams, but still do not get mares in foals. In human studies, the alteration in the ratio of cholesterol to phospholipid in semen has been shown to be the underlying problem of a certain type of infertility case. Drawing on this knowledge, the researchers seek to identify the underlying cause(s) of a comparable situation in horses, allowing for development of effective treatment which could salvage such a horse.

Practical Equine DNA Vaccination
Dr. Paul Lunn, University of Wisconsin

In North America, viral respiratory disease is believed to rank second only to colic as the most common disorders in the horse. The most common infectious viruses in horses are equine herpesviruses and influenza virus. This project is designed to exploit recent innovations in the new technology of DNA vaccination to produce a practical vaccination strategy to protect horses from viral respiratory disease. Past Foundation funding has assisted this research team in developing information to this end. This project continues that work. It is also conjectured that success in this field will produce technology that could be adapted for use against emerging diseases such as West Nile Virus.

Is Suspensory Apparatus Injury Related To Condylar Fracture?
Dr. Sue Stover, University of California-Davis

The predominant injury type in the cannon bone is fracture of the lateral condyle into the fetlock joint. This project is designed to determine whether suspensory apparatus injury is related to condylar fracture. Demonstration of such could assist horsemen in avoiding condylar fracture by treatment of the suspensory problem before further racing. Ancillary to this project will be continuing understanding of the relationship between toe grabs and musculoskeletal injury.

Seeking Solutions to Problems of the Cecum, An Organ Related to Dangerous Colic Cases
Dr. David A. Schneider, Washington State University

The control of intestinal muscle is crucial for its proper contractile function, and dysfunction ultimately causes colic. The cecum is a unique digestive organ of the horse, and colics associated with the cecum are notoriously difficult to detect. Further, such colic cases may cause acute disease and frequently are resistant to medical or surgical correction, leading to death. The goals of this research are
(1) to improve understanding of how transmission of nerve impulses controls the cecum,
(2) determine how that control mechanism differs from control of the small intestine, and
(3) better understanding of how certain drugs might impact normal or dysfunctional cecum activity.

The Role of Volatile Fatty Acids in Equine Gastric Ulcers
Dr. Frank Andrews, University of Tennessee

In recent years, the prevalence of gastric ulcers in athletic horses has become widely recognized. In previous work funded by GJCF, the role of several types of acids, as well as low pH, were demonstrated to be important factors in producing gastric ulcers in horses fed high concentrate diets. The next step, via this project, is to determine effects of different concentrations of acids on stomach injury, and also to determine if calcium can protect the stomach against this type of condition.

Development of a Refined Equine Model For Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM)
Dr. William Saville, Ohio State University

EPM research has been hampered by the inability to reproduce the disease in horses to create a model for study. As knowledge about EPM continues, a recent development by this research team is indication that stress of transportation within close time proximity to infection created more severe clinical cases than when the infection was dissociated from travel. The purpose of this study is to refine the equine model by determining the amount of the protozoan infection required to produce severe clinical symptoms in relationship to transport. EPM is widely regarded as the most important neurologic disease in the horse today.

Basis for the Treatment of Flexural Deformities
Dr. Stephen Arnoczky, Michigan State University

Contraction of tendons in foals produces "over-flexion" of the limbs, a common and potentially devastating problem. While splinting, bandaging, and controlled exercise have been used in mild cases of limb deformity, surgery is often required. However, surgery alone is not always successful in metacarpal phalangeal deformities and is not an option in many rear limb flexural deformities. Large doses of the intravenous antibiotic oxytetracycline have produced successful results in addressing mild to moderate deformities in foal. However, the mechanism by which oxytetracycline prompts correction is unknown; moreover, dosages routinely used in this way have been shown to induce kidney failure in come cases. This project will test the premise that the oxytetracycline inhibits contractile mechanism in a dose-dependent relationship. In addition to seeking understanding of the mechanisms involved, the project will investigate the ability of other antibiotics to affect the positive results without the toxic side effects.

Further Evaluation of Shoes and Impact Trauma
Dr. David Nunamaker, University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center

The G forces which have been shown to be increased when toe grabs are used can be measured and recorded by attaching accelerometers to the hoof. The ongoing research by this scientist and his team will continue the work GJCF has been funding, of developing a safer shoe for horses running at high speeds. Moreover, the method of shoe attachment is indicated to be a factor
in the impact on the limb, and this study will evaluate options of shoe attachment. The end goal is development of a safer shoe design, and will have the secondary component of providing a data acquisition system that can enhance evaluation of any aspect of the interface between hoof and track.

Is Nitric Oxide Involved in Delayed Uterine Clearance?
Dr. Sherri Rigby, Texas A & M University

Some subfertile mares are unable to clear the uterus after it is contaminated during breeding, a condition which destroys the embryo. Various projects, including some funded by this Foundation, have shown that inability to clear the uterus results from abnormal muscle contraction. Understanding what causes the abnormal contractions is a next step, and this specific proposal will investigate whether nitric oxide is a cause. Steps include determining which cells of the uterus are capable of producing nitric oxide, a compound which reduces cell function, and then comparing the amount of this substance in normal versus subfertile mares.

Muscle Glycogen Metabolism in Horses
Dr. Kenneth Hinchcliff, Ohio State University

So-called "tying-up' syndrome is a major muscle problem which keeps many young race horses on the shelf for extended periods of time. This project seeks nutritional explanations for the problem as well as addressing aspects of athletic performance. The author has a strong record in exercise physiology. The aim is to determine the role of diet in computing how quickly horses can replenish muscle glycogen concentration.

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