Advancing laminitis research — a collaborative effort
Institute at Penn Vet conducting studies, sharing research with colleagues internationally
May 01, 2009
Kennett Square, Pa. — Research into the causes and treatment of laminitis, along with wide-ranging collaboration, are the driving forces behind the newly established Laminitis Institute at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center.
The institute was established primarily with a gift from philanthropists Marianne and John K. Castle, along with the Barbaro Fund, launched after the Thoroughbred's death in 2007 following a bout with laminitis.
Already he is advancing the institute's first major initiative — creating a tissue bank at New Bolton Center. Tissue and blood samples from horses with either experimentally induced or naturally acquired laminitis, along with data, are being collected from researchers throughout the United States and worldwide, with the institute serving as a repository for all of them to access.
"Our goal is to take a three-pronged approach to answer some very basic and general questions," says Galantino-Homer, VMD, PhD, Dipl. ACT, the lead investigator. "Gleaning from the human and veterinary literature, and proving through our experiments which pathways apply and which don't, we hope to find some answers."
The three research components are tissue banking, investigation into the pathogenesis of laminitis and developing an in vitro lab model of laminitis.
Included are serum and tissue samples from several Cushing's horses, some with laminitis and some without. "We have all the information that goes with those samples — endocrine studies for the Cushing's horses, laminar histopathology, what research has been done with samples so far, everything centralized because it's not always easy to get that material to work with," says Galantino-Homer.
The Bernice Barbour Foundation recently provided a three-year grant to develop a laminitis discovery database, which will include the tissue and serum bank, the information associated with the samples and a database of information on antibodies that can be used for equine studies.
The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, working with Pollitt, is using tissues from oligofructose and hyper-insulinemic clamps, two of Pollit's models of in vivo laminitis.