Research News

It is my pleasure to present our second annual 2003 report from the Trueman Equine and Comparative Orthopedic Research Program. In our initiation year [2002] we established the groundwork for the activities outlined in this year’s report. Our move to the research suite (room 325) in the new Veterinary Medical Academic Building and the use of the Gait Analysis and Applifed Research Laboratory (Room 1338 Veterinary Medical Center) are now well established. We recruited outstanding candidates in our Trueman PhD position and post-doctoral fellowship positions.

GeneChip with horse

Our biggest accomplishments in the year 2003 have been the launching of the Equine GeneChip® (the first equine specific gene expression microarray), initiation of our first applied gene therapy studies in horses, and the funding of our Trueman PhD candidate, Terri Ann Zachos DVM, ACVS, by a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. In continuing our interdisciplinary and comparative mission, we have also added a new post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory, Robert Gorsline MD from the Department of Orthopedics in the College of Medicine and Public Health, that is using human tissues obtained through our University approved IRB protocol. We have maintained our Bio-safety Level II laboratory status and approved portions of the veterinary medical center for gene therapy of horses, both research and clinical cases

Our research progress is continuing and we have submitted 7 competitive research grants and 2 competitive research pre-proposals in 2003, 5 extramural and 4 intramural, and trained a new full-time research assistant in the laboratory, Amanda Lee Johnson BS. Additionally we have submitted, and been funded for a research contract to study a new Articular Cartilage Replacement Unit (ACRU) in horses as a model for human use. Both horses and humans will directly benefit from this work. This study is a Good Laboratory Practice 1 year study of a biodegradable “off the shelf” cartilage replacement to be administered with specialized instrumentation at surgery to repair worn out cartilage. Data will be completed for an FDA submission in 2004.

GeneChipOur Final Reports from 2002 have been accepted by the FDA on 3 contracts and have resulted in the FDA approval of the radiofrequency technology for hemostasis in bone and pending approval of a new medication to treat osteoarthritis in horses and a new biodegradable ligament replacement material for use in horses and humans. Active scientific research projects in the laboratory currently include (1) the study of modified adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) vector to provide expanded tropism to articular cells for gene therapy, (2) the use of the equine GeneChip® for large scale gene expression profiling of multiple articular cell types, including stem cells, (3) the long term study of a biodegradable cartilage replacement method to repair worn cartilage, (4) the study of the potential of fatty acids to fight synovial inflammation as a potential medication for arthritis, (5) the application of bone morphogenetic proteins, delivered as gene encoding nucleotides, to accelerate the healing of fractures, and (6) the use of the force plate as a quantitative method to improve our clinical resolution of gait abnormalities in horses. Additionally, with the assistance of our post-doctoral researcher, Weisong Gu, PhD, two invention disclosures have been submitted in 2003: one for the Equine GeneChip® which houses over 3,000 equine genes and one for the software methods used to screen the public nucleotide databases to create gene expression microarrays. Our research continues to bridge the gap from molecular biology to clinical application to continue our goal of providing cutting edge translational research in the biomedical field to better the health and welfare of the animals and humans.

In addition to doing the research, we have continued to disseminate the information at national and international equine scientific meetings, orthopedic research meetings and gene therapy meetings. In 2003 we were honored by a selection for two podium presentations at the upcoming Orthopedic Research Society meeting and a podium presentation at the Ruth Jackson Orthopedic Society meeting. These international meetings recognize all research worldwide in all musculoskeletal programs. For the Orthopedic Research Society Meeting, only 200 podium presentations were selected from over 6,000 submitted abstracts. Additionally our work has been presented at the Annual Meetings for the 2003 British Equine Veterinary Association, 2003 American College of Veterinary Surgeons, and 2003 American Society of Gene Therapy. Six scientific manuscripts of our work have been published or accepted for publication in 2003; four others have been submitted. We have relayed our work to horse owners through publications and news articles in lay journals and presentations to the Standardbred and Thoroughbred Advisory Councils.

We look forward to the future with great enthusiasm. We anticipate exciting discoveries and benefits on orthopedic conditions in horses that will ultimately extend to people with similar conditions.

Alicia L Bertone, DVM, PhD, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Trueman Family Endowed Chair
Professor, Equine Orthopedic Surgery
The Ohio State University