The Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association donated $150,000 to the Equine Pharmacology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's (Penn Vet) New Bolton Center that will support continued research in equine biomarkers.
The new round of PHBA funding will bolster three key research initiatives focused on improving the health and safety of equine athletes and enhancing integrity in racing. One area of research seeks to identify novel mRNA biomarkers that can help proactively predict if a horse is at risk for injury, even for injuries that are difficult or impossible to detect using conventional methods. Ultimately, researchers hope to develop a rapid stall-side blood test that could be administered prior to a race, helping racing officials accurately detect horses that may be at an elevated risk.
The funding will also support Penn Vet's sample collection for continued development of an Equine Biological Passport through the expansion of the Equine Pharmacology Laboratory's BioBank. Samples from the BioBank are analyzed to determine baseline levels of blood-based biomarkers found in racehorses. Once established, these baseline levels can be used to determine if blood samples taken from a horse pre- or post-race show any variations from baseline indicative of illness, injury or prohibited substances.
“The PHBA is very proud to continue its partnership with Penn Vet by providing an additional grant of $150,000 to fund this incredibly important and timely research program,” said Deanna Manfredi, PhD, a member of the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association's Board of Directors. “This research program has the potential to have a very positive impact on the sport we all love and ensure its continued success through advances in preventing breakdowns, promoting equine health, and enhancing racing integrity.”