A look toward future research
"Laminitis is a very interesting, complicated disease, particular to horses, and it's going to take a lot of money and effort
to get everything done to solve it," White says. "Though we've had various models—the carbohydrate-overload model, the black-walnut
model—we hope that by examining the epidemiology of the disease, we might discover some of the causes."
"The success of this project is largely based on veterinarian participation," says Coleman. "Our current goal is to maintain
enthusiasm about the study and to continue to collect data from equine practitioners. We will keep AAEP members informed of
The Laminitis Research Project Advisory Board planned to meet again in March to look at a second project on weightbearing,
support-limb (contralateral limb) laminitis (as occurred in Barbaro). This is a major problem for injured horses in equine
hospitals and care facilities.
"We anticipate the weightbearing study will again need the collaboration of hundreds of AAEP members, clinics, equine hospitals
and referral facilities to help us collect data," says McIlwraith. "However, details for this study are still being developed
and will be defined at our next meeting."
That project will run concurrently with the current one and continue for the next couple of years. More funding is needed
to start the support limb laminitis study. The AAEP Foundation has set out to raise a total of $1 million to support these
planned projects and future research.
Data submission process and outreach
To contribute to the study, equine veterinarians will need to submit data from their first-time cases of PEAL. The data to
gather includes the signalment, diet, housing and health management, morphometric measurements and blood samples from not
only the affected horse but also two control horses.
"The case definition for laminitis for this study is for horses to have at least Obel grade 2 lameness," says Eades.
To sign up, practitioners are invited to visit the study website at http://vetmed.tamu.edu/laminitis. Participating AAEP-member veterinarians may also enroll in the study by contacting the Dr. Michelle Coleman, the study coordinator,
or (979) 219-3523.
Upon registration, participating veterinarians will be sent all necessary study materials, including access to the study survey,
instructions on performing morphometric measurements and blood collection and shipping supplies.
Coleman says they've already received some data from practitioners. "Initially, we sent a mailing and an email to AAEP members
in late January 2012," says Coleman. "We will continue with updates in the AAEP 'Spur of the Moment' biweekly emails and continue
to encourage veterinarian participation as needed. We have had a very good response from our first requests, but time will
tell how much data we will collect."
Eades says, "We are asking a lot from veterinarians, perhaps. But we feel this has also been asked for by the AAEP membership,
and we feel they will be willing to go the extra mile.
"We are tracking the data input by state. I've sent out emails to my friends around the state of Louisiana to get cases in,
as Texas is beating us at the moment," Eades says tongue-in-cheek.
Ed Kane, PhD, is a researcher and consultant in animal nutrition. He is an author and editor on nutrition, physiology and
veterinary medicine with a background in horses, pets and livestock. Kane is based in Seattle.