A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine launched a study investigating the genetic and management factors influencing muscle disease in horses.
The scientists are also looking to determine if diet or exercise impact muscle disease expression, the college said in its announcement.
Results from this study will help veterinarians, researchers and horse owners develop treatment strategies to combat the wide-spread problem. This study is both the largest study into muscle disease in horses and the largest crowd-sourced study in the college’s history, the announcement said.
“Muscle diseases are some of the most common health issues horses face, with more than 250,000 horses in the U.S. afflicted each year,” said Dr. Molly McCue, professor in the department of veterinary population medicine, associate dean of research at the college and principal investigator on the study. Horses with muscle disease often exhibit muscle pain, stiffness and a reluctance to move.
The research team hopes to leverage its long-standing expertise in genetic and muscle disease research to both identify which specific genetic mutations predispose a horse to muscle disease and to advance therapies.
“We are turning to our expansive network of cases to help us respond to this far-reaching challenge in equine veterinary medicine,” McCue said.
Submitting a horse with suspected or diagnosed muscle disease to this study is a four-part process involving the supplementary submission of a horse residing on the same property without a suspected or diagnosed muscle disease to act as the control, the college said. All information regarding submitting a horse to this study and details behind the study can be found on the study’s website. Study updates will be posted on the Facebook page of the Equine Genetics & Genomics Laboratory.
This study is funded, in part, by a grant from Morris Animal Foundation as well as support from private donors.