Gene Therapy and the treatment of Laminitis

The word, “laminitis” puts a bad feeling in the pit of every horse owner’s stomach. However, it looks as though preliminary gene therapy research is show promising results and the possibility of successful laminitis treatment.

The article “Preliminary Study Performed on New Laminitis Treatment Technique” by Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc on describes one such study:

In this study, researchers from VGX Animal Health in The Woodlands, Texas, injected horses intramuscularly with a plasmid (a small, nonreplicating fragment of DNA) that contained the gene for growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH)–a potent hormone that can increase the production of both growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 to offset the development of arthritis and other chronic conditions, including laminitis.

After injecting the hormone, the scientists applied electroporation (delivery of electric pulses through the skin) to temporarily “open” the horse’s cells. This improves the uptake of the plasmid, resulting in enhanced delivery of the GHRH gene.

Two horses with non-weight bearing laminitis were treated with the above therapy and observed for possible improvement:

The results of this pilot study revealed that the treated horses were pasture sound six months following a single treatment. Researchers noted on physical examination of the treated horses during the six-month period that both horses’ lameness improved considerably. At the end of this period the treated horses no longer required analgesic (pain-killing) or anti-inflammatory drug therapy.

Although larger studies will obviously need to be conducted, the preliminary results look exciting. For the full article, visit

2 Responses to Gene Therapy and the treatment of Laminitis

  1. Mocha Mom says:

    This would appear to be right up an alley of your former life as a PhD.

  2. Black Eye Beth says:

    Yes, you are correct…I did this sort of thing on a cellular level, many, many moons ago…Probably why I found it so interesting

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