Vital animal health projects receive funding

Two longtime research funds have directed more than $170,000 in funding to researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in support of vital pet and equine health research projects.

The Companion Animal Health Fund (CAHF) is investing more than $67,000 in eight pet health projects while the Equine Health Research Fund (EHRF) will provide eight teams of equine researchers with over $106,000 in funding.

The projects involve more than 40 WCVM faculty and external research collaborators, graduate students and veterinary students. Research teams will conduct their investigations over the next 18 to 36 months.

“WCVM researchers are dedicated to improving the standards of health care for veterinary patients, and the research proposals submitted this year were very reflective of that,” says Dr. Baljit Singh, associate dean of research for the WCVM.

“We’re also very excited by the number of projects that involve interdisciplinary teams of researchers whose research findings will benefit animal health as well as human health.”

Companion animal researchers are studying a wide variety of topics ranging from lymph nodes to new methods of medical imaging. Research teams will also be looking at important health issues such as canine liver disease, feline pancreatic cancer, canine prostate cancer and new drug and surgical protocols.

In the equine health field, researchers are investigating many issues that play important roles in the equine industry. One example is septic arthritis, a debilitating disease with the potential to end a horse’s career. Pregnancy loss in mares — a major problem that often faces horse breeders — is another WCVM research topic.

Other topics of research include chronic liver disease, methods of anesthesia, skin disease, tick-borne illnesses, equine herpes virus and respiratory disease.

In addition to providing funding for research projects, the EHRF is supporting two research fellows for the 2013-2014 academic year. Dr. Keri Thomas, who completed her veterinary degree at Iowa State University, is a resident in large animal surgery and a MVetSc candidate at the WCVM. Thomas will be studying the biomechanics of pins as a stabilization tool for horses suffering from fractures.

Dr. Andres Sanchez is also a large animal surgery resident and MVetSc student. Sanchez has a veterinary degree from Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires in Tandil, Argentina. Sanchez’s work will focus on improving the detection of joint fluid infections in horses.

Thomas’ graduate supervisor is Dr David Wilson while Dr. Joe Bracamonte is supervising Sanchez’s work. Both Thomas and Sanchez are in the second year of their combined clinical residency-graduate programs.

The CAHF will also provide funding for a CAHF research fellow this year. Dr. Julie Lemetayer is a resident in small animal medicine and a MVetSc candidate whose work is supervised by Dr. Susan Taylor. Lemetayer, who received her DVM degree from the National Veterinary School of Nantes in France, will complete her program at the WCVM in 2014. Lemetayer’s research focuses on how drugs distribute throughout the body after being given orally.

The EHRF and CAHF, established in 1977 and 1978 respectively, support equine health and companion animal health research and specialized training programs at the WCVM. The research funds provide money for research projects as well as for research fellowships, summer research and undergraduate student learning opportunities.

Companion Animal Health Fund-supported studies for 2013-2014:

  • “A novel approach to the cranial esophagus via a first intercostal space thoracotomy.” Researchers: Drs. Kathleen Linn, Amanda Tallant and Peter Gilbert.
  • “Investigation on the antinociceptive interaction between buprenorphine and remifentanil in conscious cats.” Researchers: Drs. Barbara Ambros, Tanya Duke and Lynn Weber.
  • “Investigating the defence mechanism of metallothionein in primary hepatitis in dogs.” Researchers: Drs. Ahmad Al-Dissi, Andy Allen, Beverly Kidney and Santhi Sridharan.
  • “Diagnostic yield of ultrasound-guided versus manual-guided aspiration of normal-sized peripheral lymph nodes in dogs.” Researchers: Drs. Monique Mayer, Bruce Wobeser, Beverly Kidney, James Montgomery, Greg Starrak, Tawni Silver, Cheryl Waldner and Sally Moore.
  • “Comparison of synchrotron phase contrast computed tomography with 3T magnetic resonance imaging, and histopathology of normal and diseased ex vivo canine prostates.” Researchers: Drs. James Montgomery, Liz Snead and Jaswant Singh, WCVM; Murray Pettit, U of S College of Agriculture and Bioresources; and Paul Babyn, U of S College of Medicine.
  • “Validation of Zhangfei as a new treatment modality for canine cancer.” Researchers: Drs. Vikram Misra, Valerie MacDonald Dickinson, Kathleen Linn and Elemir Simko.
  • “Proteomic investigation of feline pancreatic adenocarcinoma.” Researchers: Drs. Elemir Simko, Melissa Meachem, Beverly Kidney, Marion Jackson and Liz Snead.
  • “Comparison of short-term treatment regimen of nitrofurantoin versus long-term treatment regimen of amoxicillin for uncomplicated urinary tract infections in dogs: a randomized, blinded, prospective study.” Researchers: Drs. Liz Snead, Manual Chirino and Donna Michasiw; and Meg Scuderi and Susan Mechain.

Equine Health Research Fund-supported studies for 2013-2014:

  • “Investigating the defence mechanism of metallothionein in hepatitis in horses.” Researchers: Drs. Ahmad Al-Dissi, Andy Allen and Santhi Sridharan.
  • “Evaluation of the effect of arthroscopic lavage on serum amyloid A concentration, total protein and nucleated cell count in synovial fluid of healthy horses.” Researchers: Drs. Joe Bracamonte, Andres Sanchez-Teran, Steven Hendrick, Hilary Burgess and Tanya Duke, WCVM; Luis Rubio-Martinez, University of Liverpool; and Brent Hoff, University of Guelph.
  • “Effect of intrauterine plant oil administration on endometrial factors.” Researcher: Dr. Claire Card.
  • “Alfaxalone or propofol with ketamine for induction and maintenance of anesthesia in horses.” Researchers: Drs. Tanya Duke, Barbara Ambros and Joe Bracamonte.
  • “Role of cellular autophagy in equine herpes virus replication.” Researchers: Drs. Marko Kryworuchko, Katharina Lohmann and Vikram Misra.
  • “What does the test mean? Comparison of a point-of-care ELISA and standard laboratory serologic tests for Lyme Borreliosis and Granulocytic Anaplasmosis in horses.” Researchers: Drs. Katharina Lohmann, Gili Schvartz, Hilary Burgess and Tasha Epp, WCVM; and Neil Chilton, U of S Department of Biology.
  • “Use of fine needle aspiration in the diagnosis of skin lesions of horses in Western Canada.” Researchers: Drs. Bruce Wobeser and Hilary Burgess.
  • “What is normal? Evaluation of tracheal wash and bronchoalveolar lavage samples from presumed healthy horses grouped by age.” Researchers: Drs. Julia Montgomery, Katharina Lohmann, Hilary Burgess, Stephen Manning and Tasha Epp.

Article by Melissa Cavanagh. Visit WCVM Today to read more WCVM news.