UC Davis to Test Experimental Drug for Treating Laminitis

UC Davis to Test Experimental Drug for Treating Laminitis

Dr. Alonso Guedes with one of his laminitis patients.

Photo: Don Preisler/UC Davis

Veterinarians have announced plans to conduct a clinical trial evaluating an experimental drug that has shown promise in treating horses stricken with the debilitating hoof disease laminitis.

Veterinarians have treated four horses suffering from laminitis with the investigational anti-inflammatory drug so far. They said that one horse experienced remission that has lasted for more than a year, and three others have shown some improvement. A paper on the first laminitis case has been accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed Journal of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia

Alonso Guedes, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVA, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), School of Veterinary Medicine, plans to begin the clinical trial to assess the drug’s safety and establish a tolerable dose in the spring. Further clinical trials would be needed to establish the drug’s effectiveness as a laminitis treatment.

The experimental compound, known as t-TUCB, belongs to a group of anti-inflammatory compounds called sEH (soluble epoxide hydrolases) inhibitors. It stems from a discovery made more than 40 years ago by UC Davis entomology professor Bruce Hammock, PhD, while doing basic insect biology research. He and colleagues have identified a group of anti-inflammatory compounds, including the sEH inhibitors, that have proven to be effective in relieving inflammatory discomfort and pain related to nervous system disorders in mice and rats. Their work has been published in scientific journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Guedes noted that the safe management of laminitis-related pain is one of the biggest challenges for equine veterinarians. Often, euthanasia is the only humane alternative for alleviating pain and suffering in horses afflicted with the condition. Consequently, the survival rate for laminitis is estimated to be only 25%. Very few surviving horses return to their previous levels of activity, and laminitis often reappears.

Funding was provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the UC Davis Center for Equine Health.

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