Breakdown Breakthrough

New research has identified a promising diagnostic technique that should decrease the incidence of breakdowns of elite equine athletes at the track and help save the lives of young foals with infections at the breeding farm. "The potential for this technology is immense" said Equine Research Centre (ERC) president Dr. Andrew Clarke. It offers the ability to diagnose and assess subtle soft tissue injuries that are the precursors of more serious problems and to localize infections from the lungs of foals to the feet of mature horses.

Collaborative studies between the Equine Research Centre (Guelph) Inc., Animal Imaging Systems (Toronto) and Resolution Pharmaceuticals have shown promising results in the detection of inflammation and infection in horses. Clinical trials on a novel imaging compound, Tekappran, are being conducted in the nuclear scintigraphy facility at the Equine Research Centre.

Scintigraphy, or nuclear imaging, is renowned for its sensitivity and its ability to isolate sub-clinical bone problems in horses before changes appear on x-rays.

"Tendon and muscle injuries are common in high performance horses and yet there has not been an imaging compound commercially available that can rapidly detect soft tissue injuries in the same way as a bone scan" said Lawry Riddolls, the nuclear medicine technologist at the ERC.

Tekappran, developed by Resolution Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mississauga is injected directly, allows rapid imaging and does not require blood handling. Also currently being studied in human trials, it detects inflammation with high sensitivity.

"We are excited with the results of the preliminary studies at the Centre," said Riddolls. "In one case we clearly identified a foot abscess in a horse and mapped its progression as it healed. The imaging was very clear and concise."

Resolution Pharmaceuticals and Animal Imaging Systems (Toronto) are currently working together to complete the required regulatory steps to allow Tekappran to enter the veterinary market. The Equine Research Centre looks forward to seeing horses benefit fully from this exciting new technology.

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