Can a Drug Prevent Laminitis in Horses?

Australian researchers recently tested whether velagliflozin could help prevent laminitis in horses, and they say it’s showing promising results in early trials.
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Velagliflozin is designed to stop high glucose concentrations from circulating in the blood by encouraging the kidneys to release it into urine. Doctors already use similar drugs to treat human metabolic syndrome, and this particular one could help horses with insulin dysregulation, as well, resaerchers say. | Photo: iStock

If insulin dysregulation is the main cause of the hoof disease laminitis, why don’t we use drugs to help regulate insulin levels and, thus, prevent laminitis in horses?

Well, we would, except there aren’t any. At least not yet. Australian researchers say there might be new medication in the pipeline, and it’s showing promising results in early trials.

A drug called velagliflozin, a sodium-glucose cotransport 2 inhibitor, is designed to stop high glucose concentrations from circulating in the blood by encouraging the kidneys to release it into urine. Doctors already use similar drugs to treat human metabolic syndrome, and this particular one could help horses with insulin dysregulation, as well, said Martin Sillence, BSc (Hons), PhD, professor of biological sciences at Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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