New Projects to Study Laminitis

Two projects focusing on the equine disease laminitis will be launched soon using funds raised by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in memory of the late 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro.

The projects, at more than $100,000, will be conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia and Louisiana State University, according to a release from the Grayson-Jockey Club Foundation.

After Barbaro succumbed to his long battle with laminitis, the NTRA Charities - Barbaro Memorial Fund was created in his honor. At the June 9 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop presented a check for $100,000 to Dell Hancock, chair of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. The foundation was entrusted by the NTRA to manage the funds raised primarily from racing fans, racing participants, and racetracks.

The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation issued a special call for laminitis research and convened a panel of experts to evaluate the nine projects presented by researchers from throughout North America.

The projects chosen were designed by professor Susan Eades of Louisiana State University and professor Douglas Allen of the University of Georgia. Eades’ project will continue veterinary science’s efforts to understand the specific route of development of laminitis while testing the hypothesis that the medication doxycycline can prevent the onset of the disease and serve as a therapeutic agent for horses that contract it.

Allen’s work will follow up on recent research indicating that serotonin might be a key chemical responsible for development of laminitis and examine whether a medication that breaks down serotonin might prevent the clinical signs of laminitis following carbohydrate overload.

Both projects are scheduled to be completed within two years.

“The fund-raising effort of the NTRA already is having a positive impact on researchers’ attempts to solve a major malady that is a constant peril to all equines,” Edward Bowen, president of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, said in the Nov. 8 release. “If sufficient additional fund raising in Barbaro’s memory is achieved, additional laminitis proposals already designed can be funded. Also, the remaining laminitis proposals we received will be considered for funding through the foundation’s regular competitive grants program.”

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