Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Laminitis Research at the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit - Part 2

Laminitis Research at the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit - Part 2

From the desk of Dr. Don Walsh,

During the past five years a significant portion of research efforts at the Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit (AERLU) have focused on development of an effective drug delivery system, targeting the laminae of the horse’s foot.  Pioneering work done under the supervision of Dr. Chris Pollit by Dr. Ali Nourian’s PhD thesis developed a method of intraosseous infusion (IO) of the distal phalanx (coffin bone) [IOIDP] of the horse’s foot in order to deliver drugs. My personal participation during the past two years at the laboratory has been to further test and develop the use of this drug delivery system. 

I must admit when I first learned of the idea of drilling a hole through the hoof wall into the bone to access the unique circulation of the distal phalanyx, I was skeptical.  I am from Missouri, the “Show Me State”.  I thought it would be too painful for the horse to endure, and I needed to be shown this would work.  Well, I was wrong and Drs. Nourian and Pollitt were right. Horses tolerate the presence of the needle in their foot with no discomfort.

The work I have been involved with the past two years has investigated the extent of the potential delivery of drugs within the lamellar circulation.   The delivery system will allow clinicians to deliver a drug into the intraosseous space inside the bone. This space has direct communication to the sublamellar vessels and the laminae tissue. A slow infusion through the needle allows drugs to be delivered to the laminae to prevent or treat laminitis. 

Further perfecting the Intraosseous methods and studying the complicated circulation of the intraosseous space is being done by Simon Collins, PhD who is completing a two year post doctrinal study of IOIDP. The general public probably has no idea of how much research it takes to develop something like this method. We have to be absolutely sure we are confident in the delivery system before it will be a useful tool to help horses with laminitis.

The Intraosseous Infusion Procedure is also of great benefit as a research tool when studying the effect of a drug therapy on the laminae.  Currently Dr. Claire Underwood, as part of her PhD project, is developing a monitoring system inside the hoof to measure different concentrations of drugs that may be administered  by the intraosseous method as well as other more conventional  drug delivery methods. Assisting her with this project is Dr. Carlos Medina Torres working on his PhD. Both are under the supervision of Dr. Pollitt and Dr. vanEps.

I want to convey to the reader the sheer number of researchers and the varied projects they are working on.  It is a many-faceted challenge and Dr. Pollitt and this team of scientists at AERLU are continually adding to the knowledge we have about laminitis and treating the disease. They are working with very limited resources and any donations to fund the laminitis research are greatly needed and appreciated.  Please consider supporting this work.  As always, one hundred percent  (100%) of all public donations to AHF go directly to fund laminitis research.