Friday, December 04, 2009

Ohio State Vets Have a 20/20 Vision: Cure Laminitis by the Year 2020

4 December 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at

Here's a news story from the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, about the university's participation in the recent 5th International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot. This article is published without editing except for the addition of links to extended information. It can also be read online at the Ohio State University news section. I hope Dr. Moore's vision comes true.

Columbus, OH - Equine experts and laminitis researchers from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine participated in two laminitis research meetings/workshops, where participants shared current research rand treatments, and envisioned finding a cure by 2020.

The Fifth International Equine Conference on Laminitis and Diseases of the Foot (IECLDF), held in conjunction with the Second Annual AAEP Foundation Equine Laminitis Research Workshop (ELRW), brought together specialists from around the world. Dr. Rustin Moore, chair of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, and acting director, Ohio State Veterinary Hospital, also served as a co-organizer for the IECLDF and the chair of organizing committee and moderator for the ELR titled.

The proceedings from the IECLDF includes an article he authored titled "Laminitis Vision: 20/20 by 2020" and the ELRW proceedings has a similar paper he authored titled "Vision 20/20 - Conquer Laminitis by 2020 - A Clarified Vision for the Equine Community to Work Collaboratively and Cooperatively to Understand, Embrace, and Achieve!"

The economic and emotional toll exacted by our incomplete understanding of the disease results in frustration felt by veterinarians, owners, trainers, caregivers and the general public - many of whom came to know the disease through Barbaro.

Fighting a complex, systemic disease like laminitis can only be accomplished through shared efforts. Threats to finding a cure rest in two areas: difficulties with funding the necessary research, as well as competition between research groups for that limited funding. Losing valuable researchers who move to other areas of study due to lack of resources would be disastrous.

Private supporters such as Mr. and Mrs. John K. Castle provide both financial and emotional support to keep the research going. Their horse, "Spot," suffered from laminitis and their efforts to fight the disease in his name continued at the meeting, where they award the "Spot Courage Award" to Molly the Pony. Rescued following Hurricane Katrina, Molly was attacked and badly injured by a dog. Her rescuers and new owners knew of a few instances in which a pony could survive an amputation and learn to wear a prosthetic. Veterinarians at Louisiana State University, including Dr. Moore who was there at that time, agreed to perform the surgery. Molly now travels and inspires all those who meet her.

Dr. Moore and Fran Jurga, editor, Hoofcare and Lameness Journal as well as the blog, The Jurga Report nominated Molly's care giving team, and Dr. Moore presented the award to Kaye Harris on behalf of everyone on this team. Molly accompanied Kaye to West Palm Beach, and was a huge hit during the conference.

Other award winners at the conference include Dr. Moore, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his on-going work and support of laminitis research. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a veterinarian or farrier who has dedicated his/her career to treating horses with laminitis. The nominee's commitment goes beyond the day-to-day care and strives to include evidenced based medical and surgical treatments.

"We really believed that [Dr. Moore] deserved this award because of what he as accomplished in what is really just the first half of his career," said Dr. James Orsini, Associate Professor of Surgery, New Bolton Center and Director, Laminitis Institute, New Bolton Center, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. "His work advancing medical and surgical treatments as well as evidence based research was accomplished in just under 20 years. Now, he has moved into administration, where he is still a leader. His work with this conference has caused it to be called the very best in the country - probably the world."

Dr. James Belknap, professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State, spoke at both meetings about his research involving the role of inflammatory cells and other mediators in the initiation and propagation of laminitis.

Equine clinical instructors Dr. Teresa Burns and Dr. Britta Leise also participated in the programs, each winning scholarships to attend and present a poster about their research at the IECLDF. Dr. Burns presented "Pro-Inflammatory Cytokine and Chemokine Expression Profiles of Various Adipose Tissue Depots of Insulin Resistant and Insulin-Sensitive Light Breed Horses." and Dr. Leise presented, "Laminar Inflammatory Gene Expression in the Carbohydrate Overload Model of Equine Laminitis." The also both gave podium presentations during the ELRW and Dr. Leise presented two research posters.

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