Of special interest is the announcement that a project on laminitis has received the Elastikon™ Equine Research Award. This is funded in part through a contribution by Johnson & Johnson’s Consumer Products Company, manufacturer of Elastikon tape and other equine products.
Of particular interest are the following projects:
1. Digital Hypothermia in Laminitis: Timing and Signaling
Dr. James Belknap, The Ohio State University (Second Year)
The authors of this project report that “an integrated research effort over the last decade has enhanced the current understanding of the pathophysiology of equine sepsis-related laminitis (one of numerous causes of the disease). This has mirrored progression of sepsis research in human medicine by moving from (an earlier) concept . . .to determining that a marked inflammatory injury takes place and is likely to play a prominent role in tissue injury and subsequent failure.” However, there have been persistent failure of systemic therapies for organ/laminar injury in both human and equine medicine. One advantage laminitis presents is that it effects the hoof rather than visceral organs, lending itself to artificial cooling more readily.
In a present project funded by the Foundation, digital hypothermia (cooling of the hoof) prior to onset of carbohydrate overload-induced equine sepsis resulted in dramatic decrease in laminar inflammatory signaling. The next goal is to find pharmaceutical therapies which can accomplish the same without the cumbersome aspects of maintaining constant hypothermia to the equine hoof (hooves).
2. Laminar Energy Failure in Supporting-Limb Laminitis
Dr. Andrew Van Eps, University of Queensland (Second Year)
|Dr. Van Eps|
The project involves testing the hypothesis that supporting-limb laminitis is a result of reduced blood supply to the connection between hoof and bone (lamellar tissue). Further, that the blood supply in normal circumstances is encouraged by a regular loading and unloading of the legs and hooves (alternating which one is bearing the most weight). Injury to one leg interrupts that alternating pattern.
3. Laminar Signaling in Supporting-Limb Laminitis
Dr. James Belknap, The Ohio State University– First Year (2 Year Grant)
A recent USDA study indicates that approximately 1% of all horses in the USA suffer from laminitis at any given time, and approximately 5% of those animals die or are euthanized while many others remain crippled. Of the conditions which create laminitis, the development of the disease in the supporting limb of an already injured horse is one of the worst, since it is believed that 50% of those cases result in euthanasia.
The author reports that while there are hundreds of published papers in the literature about other forms of laminitis, reports on supporting-limb laminitis are restricted to clinical reports and case studies.
This project will “introduce a novel, non-painful model of supporting-limb laminitis and will allow for cutting edge bench research techniques to not only (1) test the current hypotheses on the cause of laminar failure, but also (2) provide an unbiased technique to determine the cellular events that occur . . .”
The investigator has performed a number of laminitis project for Grayson and the USDA, and has a well developed set of tools and techniques including laser micro-dissection of frozen laminar cells and an advanced “functional genomic” technique called RNA-Seq. By applying these techniques that have previously characterized laminitis caused by sepsis or metabolic syndrome to support limb laminitis, we will get our first understanding of what kind of drugs and treaments might prevent it.
This grant was selected by the board to receive the sixth annual Elastikon™ Equine Research Award.
4. Stem Cell Homing after IV Regional Limb Perfusion
Dr. Alan Nixon, Cornell University (First Year of Two-Year Grant)
Transplanted cells then exert normalizing and restorative effects . . .” The long-range goal is to provide a simplified approach to stem cell therapy. We cannot do this without verification of cell homing and impact. (The project) will map stem cell distribution in the tendons, ligaments, and joints of the forelimb after direct venous injection.”
1. AAV-IRAP Gene Therapy to Prevent Osteoarthritis
Dr. Laurie Goodrich, Colorado State University (Second Year)
These researchers’ preliminary work utilizing AAV-IRAP suggests that cells of joints are easily re-programmed to produce beneficial protein. The aims of this project is to define the most appropriate dose of AAV-IRAP that will result in effective levels and answer the question of whether this approach can prevent osteoarthritis in the horse.
2. Investigation of Cell and Growth-Factor Dependent Tenogenesis
Dr. Martin A. Vidal, University of California-Davis (Second Year)
The author states that current methods of healing result in inferior scar tissue and re-injury rates ranging from 23% to 67%. Transforming growth factor (TGF) combined with platelet rich plasma will be utilized, and tests will be done on how they affect tissue growth, strength, and composition. ”
3. Stem Generation of Equine Induced Pluripotent Cells for Regenerative Therapy
Dr. Lisa Fortier, Cornell University (Second Year)
The author explains that, “ . . . this proposal is to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) from equine adult dermal fibroblasts. iPS cells are the only stem cells that are both pluripotenent and autogenous, making them the most useful for clinical application. The expectation is that the results of the studies in this proposal will provide the first published description of the generation and characterization of equine iPS cells.” This is part of a process of testing the overall hypothesis that equine iPS cells will enhance tendon regeneration in cases of tendonitis.
Also, “the technical expertise gained in this study could be used in the future to generate autogenous iPS cells for use in equine cartilage and neuronal regeneration studies.”
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