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Young Scientist Gains Insight into Immune Response of Foals

MAF Successful Outcome:

Bacterial pneumonia, such as that caused by Rhodococcus equi, is the primary cause of death among foals younger than six months. It is unclear why foals are more susceptible to the pathogens that cause respiratory disease than adult horses are, but scientists hypothesize that differences in cell-mediated immune responses account for the disparity. This study focused on dendritic cells, which regulate immune response to invading bacteria or viruses. Researchers compared dendritic cell function in young horses to that in mature horses to learn more about why foals are predisposed to developing pneumonia. Results showed that foals have fewer dendritic cells than adult horses. Though further research is necessary, the results may help identify clinical approaches that could be used to treat or bolster immunity in foals. This study may also provide insights into other diseases. Outside of this study, the research group collaborated with a veterinary oncologist to perform limited clinical studies using a dendritic cell-based vaccine approach to treat equine melanoma and sarcoid. Initial results showed promise. This Foundation first award grant also helped a young researcher establish a career in cell biology and neonatal immunology.

Posted by MAFon March 24, 2010.

Categories: Animal health, Equine health, Foal diseases


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Submitted by prue at: May 28, 2010
my 3 month old filly collapsed and died immediately