New Microarray Test Scans for 400 Equine Asthma Allergens

A study using the test found asthmatic horses appear to have allergic triggers similar to humans, including a common arena footing material: latex.

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New Microarray Test Scans for 400 Equine Asthma Allergens
The microarray platform researchers developed works with mathematical modeling profiling data in a method already in use in human medicine, based on a single blood sample from the patient. | Photo: Alexandra Beckstett/The Horse
Pollen. Mold. Dust mites. Latex.

If these words get you wheezing, think about your horses. According to an international group of researchers’ study, asthmatic horses appear to have allergic triggers for their asthma similar to humans. And for the first time, thanks to a wide-scale blood test, scientists have demonstrated that this also includes a common footing material: latex.

“We found that horses with severe equine asthma (sEA) were mostly significantly allergic to several natural rubber latex proteins,” said Samuel J. White, PhD (cand), MSc, BSc (Hons), of the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, University of Nottingham in Loughborough, and Nottingham Trent University, Southwell, all in the U.K.

“The most predominant source of latex in horses is thought to be associated with the rubber component of artificial surfaces,” White explained. “The high level of respirable dust associated with training on these surfaces has already been linked with chronic bronchitis, inflammation, and oxidative stress in riding instructors, and latex has long been associated with a variety of respiratory conditions in humans

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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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