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New insights into link between high insulin levels and laminitis
Acute endocrine laminitis is seen when ponies and some horses graze lush pasture or consume a diet that is rich in sugar or starch.

Antibody could aid development of new preventative drugs 

Scientists say they have shed new light on the link between high levels of insulin and equine laminitis.

It has been known for some time that high insulin levels can cause acute endocrine laminitis - the most common form of the condition - which is seen when ponies and some horses graze lush pasture or consume a diet that is rich in sugar or starch.

However, the mechanism by which insulin can produce effects in the foot leading to laminitis has been the subject of much debate in recent years. Scientists have previously been confused by the fact that insulin must interact with a specific receptor on the surface of cells to product an effect, but there do not appear to be any insulin receptors on hoof lamellar cells.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and WALTHAM Equine Studies Group looked at the effect of insulin on equine hoof lamellar cells in the laboratory, exploring the similarities between insulin and a growth factor hormone called insulin-like growth factor -1 (IGF-1).

There are receptors for IGF-1 on the lamellar cells and the research team found high levels of insulin stimulated the cells to proliferate. In addition, this effect could be prevented with an antibody that specifically blocks just the IGF-1 receptor.

Changes within the cells were mainly linked to very high concentrations of insulin. Such concentrations are not commonly seen in normal horses considered to be at lower risk of laminitis, but can be seen in those with insulin dysregulation linked to equine metabolic syndrome.

Future research will look at how these cellular changes might cause laminitis, but researchers said it appears that targeting IGF-1 receptors may help with the development of new drugs to prevent laminitis.

Image © Spillers

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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News Shorts
Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”