The American Quarter Horse Foundation (AQHF) will fund two equine research projects at the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center in 2011-2012.

The projects are "Identifying the Role of a 'Metabolic Master Switch' in Equine Metabolic Syndrome and its Implications for Targeted Treatment," Amanda Adams, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the Gluck Center; and "Equine Herpesvirus-1 and the Type-I Interferon Response," Thomas Chambers, PhD, professor of veterinary virology at the Gluck Center, and David Horohov, PhD, William Robert Mills chair and professor at the Gluck Center.

The AQHF awarded Adams the Young Investigator Award, with a grant amount of $19,547. Her study will focus on equine metabolic syndrome, a complex disease that affects Quarter Horses as well as many other breeds and typically manifests itself with increased regional and general fat deposits, systemic inflammation, insulin resistance, and a predisposition toward developing laminitis.

The goal of the study is to activate the "metabolic master switch" enzyme SIRT1 with resveratrol to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation and fat deposition. This will be the first study to determine if an alternative treatment (SIRT1-activator, resveratrol) that mimics dietary restriction by modulating both inflammation and metabolic parameters will aid in treating metabolic syndrome.

The AQHF awarded Chambers and Horohov $37,236 for their study, which aims to determine if EHV-1--one of the most common viral diseases of horses worldwide causing respiratory disease, abortion, and neurologic disease--has the ability to block the horse's Type-1 inferferon (INF) response, which is a front-line defense against viral diseases.

Chambers and Horohov will first test whether EHV-1 infection affects the induction of Type-1 INF when stimulated by chemicals that could lead to the development of effective antiviral drugs.

These two projects were among nine equine research programs funded by the American Quarter Horse Foundation. Since 1960 the American Quarter Horse Association and American Quarter Horse Foundation have awarded more than $8.2 million in research grants to colleges and universities across the country.

Jenny Blandford is the Gluck Equine Research Foundation assistant at the Gluck Center.

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More information on Gluck Equine Research Center and UK's Equine Initiative.

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