Racing For Research

Interested in current research? Below we summarize the projects that are now in progress as a result of funding from the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA). Their Horse Improvement Program distributes funding to Ontario researchers to improve the health and well being of horses. In 2001, this amounts to just over $250,000.

A Study With Impact
James Dickey, Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences; Mark Hurtig, Clinical Studies, OVC; Jeff Thomason, Biomedical Sciences, OVC; Simon Pearce, Clinical Studies, OVC; John Runciman, School of Engineering, UofG.
The period immediately following ground contact is thought to be a critical phase for injury during equine locomotion. This study will characterize the high frequency components of the vibrations that continue up the limb at impact, and the effects of shoeing on these impacts. This will yield information that can be directly applied to reducing the likelihood of developing arthritis and catastrophic fractures.

A Study to Combat Foal Pneumonia
John F. Prescott, Pathobiology, OVC
This study deals with the development of an effective oral vaccine to prevent Rhodococcus equi pneumonia in foals. The approach examines which genes are expressed under environmental conditions (temperature, acidity) mimicking those inside pathogen organisms. Altered gene systems will be developed to examine the interaction of the harmful genes identified. From this data the most effective of these altered gene systems will be assessed for its ability to immunize foals against infection.

A Study of the Effects of Mycotoxins in Grains and a Potential Treatment
Susan Raymond, Equine Research Centre; Trevor K. Smith, Animal and Poultry Science
Fusarium mycotoxins are common contaminants of feed grains and forages grown in temperate climates such as that of Ontario. These toxins can cause problems such as feed refusal, depressed immune system, and decreases in blood pressure. This study will quantify the potential hazard arising from the feeding of Fusarium mycotoxin-contaminated feeds to horses. It will also identify a potential dietary treatment that may prove to be a binding agent with the ability to inhibit the effects of Fusarium

Improved Surgical Techniques Easier On Horses
Anthony M. Cruz, Vet Teaching Hospital
Complications resulting from traditional (open) abdominal surgery are very costly and anesthetic complications can be fatal. The use of laparoscopic techniques could possibly decrease surgical complications and result in quicker post-operative recovery. To perform a laparoscopic procedure it is necessary to inflate the abdomen with CO in order to create a working space to within the body.
This study aims to outline the effects on the heart and blood-flow system that CO2 could impose.

Antibacterial Properties of the Transformation Products of Garlic
Wendy Pearson, Nutraceutical Alliance
The large amount of research into the antibacterial properties of garlic has made the plant a popular natural antibiotic in the horse community, despite an absence of scientific evidence in horses. This project will expose common equine pathogens to garlic metabolites to identify potential antibiotic effects. These metabolites will be isolated in blood and lung wash fluid from horses consuming garlic and the antibacterial capabilities of these fluids investigated.

Unlocking the Potential of Probiotics in Horses
Dr. Scott Weese, Department of Clinical Studies
Probiotics are living microorganisms, which upon digestion in certain number exert health benefit beyond inherent basic nutrition. Probiotic therapy may be useful in the treatment or prevention of a number of disorders, particularly diarrhea. This study is evaluating a potential probiotic in adult horses and foals. This work will contribute to clearly determining the organisms, appropriate doses, and conditions that are potentially treatable with probiotics.

Helping Breeders Improve Their Odds
Dr. Robert Wright, Ontario Ministry of Food Agriculture and Rural Affairs
Fungus infects a variety of forage grasses and grains producing alkaloids. These alkaloids exert toxic effects on the mammary gland and reproductive tract of mares, and have been associated with decreasing vital pregnancy hormones causing a prolonged gestation and damage to the placenta. Lack of these hormones cause foals to be born stressed, small, weak or even stillborn. This is a field trial study that will collect benchmark data from four different broodmare farms.

Making Anesthetic Safer for Horses Requiring Surgery
Dr. Wayne McDonell , Clincal Studies, OVC
General anesthesia in the horse is still a comparatively risky procedure with a serious complication rate of about 10%. The risk arises mainly from decreased heart rates, breathing difficulties, and delirium during recovery from anesthesia. The goal of this study is to increase our knowledge of specific drugs to reduce the risk of complications associated with equine sedation, analgesia and anesthesia.

Improving on State-of-the Art Cartilage Repair
Dr. Mark Hurtig, Clinical Studies, OVC
This study builds on major achievements in the repair of injuries to joint cartilage. These cartilage injuries are usually due to growth defects or trauma and may develop into arthritis. This study investigates the use of cartilage grown in the laboratory from healthy cells. If successful, it will be used to resurface damaged joints.

An Easier and More Effective Way to Treat Bone Infection
Dr. Ludovic Bouré, Clinical Studies, OVC
Treating Bone infections in the lower limb of the horse using traditional methods often results in a poor prognosis for return to function and can lead to further complications. High doses of drugs used to treat these infections can result in dangerous side effects.
This study investigates a new way of treating bone infections directly at the location using lower concentrations of drugs and therefore reducing the risk of side effects.

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Updated: October 2005.