The gut microbiome (the mixture of microorganisms [such as bacteria and fungi] that live along the intestinal tract) is a topic of growing interest in both human and veterinary medicine.
Changes in its composition have been associated with various diseases in human medicine. Could changes in the microbial populations or their metabolic activity, give an early indication of disease susceptibility?
PhD student, Ashley Ward, will be working with Dr Philippa Morrison and Professor Caroline Argo, from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in conjunction with WALTHAM and the Rowett Institute (University of Aberdeen).
The research is supported by funding from SPILLERS™, via the brand’s science arm THE WALTHAM™ Equine Studies Group.
The project will run over three and a half years and will build on existing work on the equine gut microbiome. The aim is to try and identify changes in the faecal microbiome patterns or urinary molecules (ie “biomarkers”) that could be used to predict a case of pasture-associated laminitis.
Clare Barfoot RNutr, the Research and Development Manager at SPILLERS™ said: “We are excited about Ashley’s appointment to help progress this new project. We hope it will improve our understanding of changes in the gut microbiome/urinary metabolome associated with pasture-associated laminitis and identify potential novel ways to intervene in its development.”
Ashley Ward added: “I am thrilled to be part of this project, which will allow me to utilise my laboratory experience, develop my skills in postgraduate research and, ultimately, produce work which will supplement our current understanding of laminitis. I am passionate about working to improve the outcome for horses and ponies that are likely to develop laminitis.”
Eventually, the researchers hope the work will improve animal welfare by allowing for timely preventative interventions.
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