Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit

The Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit (AELRU) within the UQ School of Veterinary Science has been a world leader in equine laminitis research since the mid-1990s. 

This research group has made a number of significant breakthroughs that have led to changes in the clinical approach and management of this important equine disease.  Digital hypothermia, a technique that was developed and tested at the AELRU, is the only effective preventative and treatment for laminitis and is now accepted and practiced clinically world-wide as a preventative and first aid measure.  The translation of this research to the clinical setting was backed by a recently published clinical trial based on cases from North American teaching hospitals. 

The AELRU has pioneered models of experimental laminitis induction that are now almost exclusively used as the models of choice for studying the disease (oligofructose model and the prolonged euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp model).  Early work on the role of insulin in laminitis performed at the AELRU has changed the focus of laminitis research and is resulting in better means of preventing and controlling endocrine/pasture associated laminitis in the clinical setting.  The AELRU is now also focusing on the pathophysiology of supporting-limb laminitis and has a second, successive Grayson Jockey Club Research Foundation (USA) grant supporting this work.

The impact of the AELRU work is evidenced by Prof Chris Pollitt and Dr Andrew van Eps being inducted into the International Equine Veterinary Hall of Fame (KY, USA) and by numerous invited book chapters, editorials, review papers and international symposia delivered by AELRU members.  In 2015, the AELRU paper “Continuous digital hypothermia initiated after the onset of lameness prevents lamellar failure in the oligofructose laminitis model” has been selected as winner of the prestigious British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Trust Peter Rossdale EVJ Open Award, which recognises publications that influence or improve clinical practice.  The AELRU maintains strong collaborations with The University of Pennsylvania, The Ohio State University and the Queensland University of Technology, as well as other groups within UQ. 


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