Veterinarians at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine have announced plans for a clinical trial of an experimental drug that has shown promise in treating horses with laminitis.
They report that four horses suffering from laminitis have been treated with the investigational anti-inflammatory drug so far. One experienced a complete remission that has lasted for more than a year, and three others have shown some improvement.
A paper on the first case has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia. The journal editors authorised the authors to disclose their findings ahead of publication.
“This is an unusual step for us to announce this so far in advance, but because euthanasia is often the only way to alleviate pain in severe laminitis, we felt that it was important to let the veterinarians and horse owners know that this compound has shown potential as a treatment,” said Alonso Guedes, an assistant professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine.
A clinical trial to assess the drug’s safety and establish a tolerable dose for the compound is expected to begin early 2013. Further clinical trials would be needed to establish the drug’s effectiveness as a laminitis treatment.
The experimental compound, known as t-TUCB, belongs to a group of anti-inflammatory compounds called sEH (soluble epoxide hydrolases) inhibitors. It stems from a discovery made more than 40 years ago by UC Davis entomology professor Bruce Hammock while doing basic insect biology research.
In the paper, Guedes reports the case of a 4-year old Thoroughbred mare that was participating in a study into treating tendon injuries using stem cells, having been retired from racing following such an injury.
The mare developed acute laminitis, which deteriorated despite treatment including cold immersion, antibiotics, leg wraps, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Before resorting to euthanasia, Guedes and the veterinary team decided to try one last treatment, t-TUCB.
The veterinarians administered the experimental compound intravenously early on the eighth day of the mare's laminitis. They report that, after receiving the first dose, the horse remained standing in the stall most of the day, became interested in her surroundings and walked voluntarily. The mare’s demeanor, posture and mobility continued to improve over four days of treatment.
No adverse affects from t-TUCB were observed, and the mare has remained laminitis-free for twelve months.
Hammock said that work aimed at moving t-TUCB and related compounds toward clinical use is advancing in several areas. He and Guedes are working on compounds with potential for targeting pain and arthritis in companion animals.
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