Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Invitation to participate in Equine Cushing’s blue light research

Researchers at University College Dublin are collaborating with researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Centre in a large-scale study to investigate the effects of blue light treatment in horses with PPID (Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction; equine Cushing’s disease) over a 12-month period.  


The research team is led by Dr. Barbara Anne Murphy, Head of Equine Science within the School of Agriculture and Food Science at University College Dublin (UCD) in close collaboration with Dr. Amanda Adams at the Gluck Centre. 


The team at UCD are looking for owners of PPID horses/ponies that meet a specific set of criteria to investigate if blue light treatment can influence the symptoms of this debilitating condition of older horses. 


Suitable participants will be randomly assigned to either treatment (fitted with an Equilume light mask) or control (no additional light exposure) groups. However, all will receive a receive a blue light mask (Value: c€700/$700) for assisting with the project, either at the beginning, or the end of the study, depending on whether they are selected for the treatment or the control group.


The researchers explain that the control group is as important as the treatment group and will allow the collection of valuable data related to the seasonal changes in symptoms of PPID horses. The data collected will contribute significantly to knowledge of how PPID horses’ coat condition is affected throughout the year, and the results will help with the future management of this important condition.


A limited number of horses/or ponies will be included in each treatment group, and the research team are looking to recruit the most suitable participants.


If you own or manage a horse or pony diagnosed with PPID, and which displays hypertrichosis (long curly hair coat), you can complete a short questionnaire to see if you are eligible to participate. Both medicated (e.g. Pergolide) and unmedicated horses/ponies are suitable. 


Sinéad Parmantier, a Master’s student at UCD, and one of the research team, explains: “We have a strict set of criteria for selecting participants to allow our study to be as scientifically rigorous as it can be.”


She adds: “Even if an owner’s horse is not selected for the study, the information they provide about how their horse is managed will help greatly with improving our understanding of this important condition in older horses/ponies. They will also be asked if they would like to be kept informed of the results by providing an email. “ 


It is important to note that participation requires the monthly collection of hair samples from your horse/pony, the submission of photographs and the completion of bi-monthly online questionnaires. 


Follow this link to complete the questionnaire if you own or manage a horse/pony with PPID and are interested in joining the study:


Participant applications will be accepted until Friday, October 22nd.

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