Sunday, March 09, 2008

UPenn Laminitis Research Project Hopes to Clarify the Mechanism of Developmental Laminitis

Dr. Hannah Galantino-Homer, senior research investigator of the newly created laminitis research initiative at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, is beginning her research in 2008 with a grant from Grayson Jockey Club Foundation.

“Molecular and Cellular Level Studies of Laminitis” is the title of the project.

Currently, laminitis still is so baffling to scientists that researchers tend to be split into two camps (theories) as to cause of the problem — vascular and enzymatic.

“The lack of agreement about the basic pathophysiology of laminitis explains why standard guidelines for therapy are not yet available,” noted Dr. Galantino-Homer in her research statement.

If this project can identify which specific genes and proteins are up-regulated or down-regulated during the first phase of the disease — when identifiable symptoms are not yet manifested — it “will determine the pathways of the disease and allow institution of preventive or interventional treatments sooner,” according to Galantino-Homer.

The first phase of laminitis, the developmental phase, is followed, of course, by the acute phase. One of the frustrations of dealing with the disease is that often by the time it is diagnosed, the horse may be gravely threatened.

Galantino-Homer believes the study “will provide information that we and other investigators can use to verify or elaborate on existing theories about laminitis, explore previously unrecognized cellular and molecular events during laminitis, and validate in vitro models of laminitis.” The latter will facilitate research projects that do not require laminitic horses.

Click here for information about Galantino-Homer's appointment at PennVet.