Morris Animal Foundation Announces 14 New Equine Health Studies

Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) is funding 14 new equine health studies for fiscal year 2002 that address developmental bone disease, foal diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, genetics, immunology, infectious diseases, neurology, pain management, and pulmonary disorders. Grants for these studies total $678,225, and these studies join six other equine health projects currently funded by MAF. Individuals, organizations, veterinarians, and animal clubs provide the funding to make this research possible.

New Techniques for Managing Subchondral Cystic Lesions in the Stifle— Mark Hurtig, DVM, MVSc, University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. The two-year study will evaluate a method for repairing subchondral lesions (empty cavities under the cartilage surface in joints that promote bone loss and prevent healing) with a combination of biologic polymer gel, cartilage cells, bone cement, and cylindrical grafts of bone and cartilage.

Vaccination Against Rhodococcus equi Using In Vivo-Induced Bacterial Antigens— Steve Giguere, DVM, PhD, University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Research will provide the basic knowledge necessary for the development of an effective vaccine for Rhodococcus equi, the most devastating cause of pneumonia in foals.

Expired Breath Ethane as a Marker of Gastrointestinal Reperfusion Injury— Michael Davis, DVM, PhD, Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This two-year study will evaluate methods to predict injury to the intestinal blood supply after surgery, with the hope of improving the survival rate of horses undergoing colic surgery.

Endotoxin-Induced Tissue Factor Expression by Equine Monocytes: Augmentation by Platelet-Monocyte Adhesion— Richard Evens, VetMB, PhD, University of Cambridge’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Studies will identify methods to aid in the diagnosis, monitoring, and prevention of endotoxic shock by examining the biochemical reactions and cellular mechanisms involved.

Prevention of Equine Postoperative Ileus with a Selective COX-2 Inhibitor— Peter Rakestraw, VMD, MA, Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This one-year study looks at ileus (the lack of progressive motility in the gastrointestinal tract), a life-threatening condition in horses. This study will explore the efficiency of a new therapeutic approach to decrease the sickness and death associated with ileus.

Prevention of Nosocomial Equine Salmonella Infection by Administration of a Prophylactic Probiotic— Michael Ward, BVSc, PhD, Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. This study will evaluate the effects of administering probiotics (lactic acid-forming bacteria that might prevent Salmonella growth in the intestine) to hospitalized horses in an effort to reduce the risk of hospital strains of Salmonella.

Glucose Transporter Regulation in Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy— Stephanie Valberg, DVM, PhD, University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Research will identify the exact cellular biochemical defects responsible for the equine polysaccharide storage myopathy, or tying-up, in order to target specific treatments. Investigators will develop a DNA-based diagnostic blood test using their molecular genetic studies.

Identification of Conserved Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte Epitopes During Equine Infectious Anemia Virus Infection— Robert Mealey, DVM, Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. This three-year study will focus on how the equine infectious anemia virus avoids detection by cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, immune cells thought to be extremely important for control of numerous important infectious diseases of horses.

Targets of Protective Immune Responses in Equine Rhodococcal Pneumonia— Stephen Hines, DVM, PhD, Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He aims to identify and characterize proteins secreted by Rhodococcus equi in an effort to develop a method to immunize foals and protect them from R.equi pneumonia.

Quantification of Spinal Ataxia in Horses Using Kinematic Analysis of Gait— Kevin Keegan, DVM, University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Research will develop a clinically useful tool to differentiate normal horses from horses afflicted with spinal ataxia (the inability to coordinate muscle activity during voluntary movement).

The Effectiveness of Acupuncture on the Treatment of Heel Pain in the Horse: A Prospective Clinical Study— Judy Cox, DVM, PhD, Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The one-year study will evaluate electro-acupuncture for treatment of heel pain in the horse.

Development of a Reversible, Minimally Invasive Model of Visceral Pain in Horses— Tamara Grubb, DVM, MS, Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The study will evaluate a method of quantifying visceral (intestinal) pain so investigators can objectively compare pain-relieving drugs and their dosages.

The Analgesic Efficacy and Side Effects of Transdermally Administered Fentanyl in Horses— Glenn Pettifer, DVM, Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The one-year study will assess the effectiveness of the transdermal (through the skin) administration of fentanyl, a potent narcotic, in providing pain relief to horses.

Methionine-Enkephalin and Dynorphin—A Release in Equine Plasma After Electro-Acupuncture— Roman Skarda, DVM, PhD, The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Research will determine the effects of a new and safe method of using electro-acupuncture for blocking pain arising from intestinal distention.

For more information about the Morris Animal Foundation call 800/243-2345 or visit their web site at

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