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Our Research

Science has the power to change the world

As the global leader in supporting scientific research that advances veterinary medicine, Morris Animal Foundation has invested more than $100 million toward more than 2,400 studies to improve the health and well-being of dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas and wildlife.

At any given time, Morris Animal Foundation is managing more than 200 active studies. Each year, we also fund about 30 veterinary student scholar projects. Search our health study database by species or area of study to learn more about research that will make a true difference in the lives of animals—today and tomorrow.

To sponsor a study, please contact a member of our sponsorship team for the most up-to-date status on our research projects at sponsorship@MorrisAnimalFoundation.org or call 800.243.2345. 

Search Results

Creating a New Tool to Study Wound Healing

Superficial leg wounds, especially below the knee, are common in horses and cannot be closed via suture. The healing process can be lengthy and often is complicated by the formation of exuberant granulation tissue (EGT), also known as “proud flesh.” EGT is characterized by excessive tissue growth that impedes skin healing and can lead to extensive scarring, discomfort and even chronic lameness. Although EGT is a common problem, little is known about the cellular biology of equine skin. Few models exist to study this wound healing complication. Researchers will develop an EGT model using equine skin explants grown under laboratory culture conditions. This new model will help researchers study equine wound healing and develop novel therapies to treat EGT in affected horses. 

Principal Investigator: John Peroni, DVM, The University of Georgia

Sponsors:

Study ID: D17EQ-822

Determining Genetic Mutations for Equine Sarcoid Tumors

Equine skin tumors, known as sarcoids, are the most common cancer in horses. Although seldom fatal, sarcoids are difficult to treat, and in some cases the horse can’t be ridden if the tumors develop in saddle or bridle areas. This study attempts to pinpoint the genetic mutations associated with tumor development. Information gained could be used to help develop new preventive measures or treatments, including therapeutic vaccines.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Douglas F. Antczak, Cornell University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13EQ-026

Determining the Role of Pili in Equine Distemper Development

Strangles, also known as equine distemper, is a serious and highly contagious infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi. Pili are short appendages at the surface of bacteria that enable them to attach to tissues. This study will investigate the role of pili in the ability of S. equi to colonize horse respiratory tissues. If the hypothesis is correct, it will indicate that vaccination against these pili may offer protection against strangles.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Helene Marquis, Cornell University

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13EQ-804

Determining uveitis (eye inflammation) risk factors in Appaloosa horses

Summary: Researchers will investigate genetic risk factors for equine recurrent uveitis, a common eye condition and leading cause of blindness in horses.

Description: Equine recurrent uveitis is characterized by repeated episodes of inflammation of the uvea, the pigmented and vascular middle layer of the eye. Appaloosa horses are eight times more likely to develop and four times more likely to be blinded by the condition, suggesting genetic factors may influence disease risk. Researchers will search for genes associated with ERU in Appaloosas and determine whether or not the mutation causing the white spotting pattern, for which the breed is known, is a contributing risk factor. This study is the first step toward developing an ERU screening test for Appaloosa horses, allowing for earlier diagnosis and intervention to decrease ERU-associated blindness in this breed.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Rebecca R. Bellone, University of California/Davis

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Study ID:

Determining Whether a Mare’s Antibodies Can Protect a Foal Against Lawsonia intracellularis

Lawsonia intracellularis is a bacterium that can cause severe intestinal disease in foals. Using blood samplesfrom mares and their foals, researchers from the University of Kentucky will examine the role that the mare’s immunity may play in the foal’s immunity to L. intracellularis infection. Understanding this process could lead to novel approaches to reduce the incidence of this emerging disease in foals.

Principal Investigator: Dr. David W. Horohov, University of Kentucky

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12EQ-014

Developing a new treatment strategy and drug-delivery system for foal pneumonia

Summary: Researchers will compare combinations of antimicrobials to identify the most effective combination for use in a novel, aerosolized, nanoparticle drug delivery system. 

Description: Despite aggressive antibiotic therapies, the mortality rate of foals that develop Rhodococcus equi pneumonia remains high, underscoring the need for new treatment strategies. No effective preventive vaccines currently are available and the increasing emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of R. equi has further complicated disease management. Researchers will compare standard-of-care antibiotics to novel antimicrobial compounds and identify a more efficacious medication combination. Researchers also will develop an aerosolized, nanoparticle system for their new drug strategy to improve multi-drug delivery, treatment success, and survival of foals with R. equi pneumonia.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Carolyn L. Cannon, Texas A&M University Health Science Center

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Developing a Novel Model to Help Researchers Study Laminitis

Equine laminitis (commonly known as founder) is challenging to study because it results from diverse causes, including obesity, exposure to toxins, dietary insufficiencies, endocrine disease and physical injury. In addition, access to tissues for study is severely limited because the affected tissue is encased in the hard capsule of the horse’s hoof. Researchers will work to develop a noninvasive tissue culture model of laminitis that will provide a better understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of laminitis and wound healing of affected hooves. This more cost-effective model may also accelerate the rate of research and help identify potential new treatments that improve quality of life and ease suffering in horses.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Lori D. Gutzmann, University of Missouri, Pfizer Animal Health–Morris Animal Foundation Fellowship

Sponsors:

Study ID: D12MS-900

Developing a Rhodococcus equi Vaccine for Foals

The goal of this study is to develop a new oral, inactivated vaccine to protect foals against pneumonia caused by Rhodococcus equi. The study is innovative in that it will entail a new, proprietary application of an established technology to produce the inactivated vaccine. The study will also further understanding of immune responses of newborn foals.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Noah D. Cohen, Texas A&M University

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Study ID: D13EQ-001

Developing a vaccine for penile cancer in horses

Summary: Researchers will produce papillomavirus-like particles for potential use as a vaccine to protect horses against cancer of the penis.

Description: Penile cancer is a common, but difficult-to-treat, cancer of horses. Recent studies show that many equine penile cancers are caused by infection with equine papillomavirus type 2. In people, human papillomaviruses cause almost all cervical cancers and a proportion of penile cancers. To prevent these cancers, virus-like particle human papillomavirus vaccines were developed and are now widely used for cancer prevention. In this study, techniques used to produce the human VLPs will be used to develop equine papillomavirus type 2 VLPs. The successful production of equine papillomavirus type 2 VLPs is a critical first step toward developing a vaccine to protect horses against penile cancer.

Principal Investigator: Dr. John S Munday, Massey University

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Developing a Vaccine for Pigeon Fever

Pigeon fever, also known as dryland distemper, is an emerging and quickly spreading bacterial infectious disease in horses caused  by the bacterium Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis. No vaccine is currently available for horses. Researchers will work toward developing a vaccine to prevent this bacterial disease in horses.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Roberta R. Pollock, Occidental College

Sponsors:

Study ID: D13EQ-031

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