LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Research aimed at preventing racehorse injuries and deaths continues, and it involves looking at the blood of horses.
Multiple different research projects are going on at the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Center to save lives on the rack before a potential injury strikes. Dr. Allen Page is the scientist veterinarian at the Gluck Equine Research Center. Page said the research involves using messenger RNA, which is the recipe for the blood to develop certain proteins.
“Using messenger RNA from horses goes back actually I think about ten years now to 2013, and I started working on it in 2017 and that’s really when we shifted the focus from looking at fitness, which we still do, but focusing more on injury risk,” Page said.
The messenger RNA is used to identify the risk of injury before it can happen. The research correctly identified injury risks roughly 75% of the time when testing the blood of injured horses. Page said this research is bigger than just Kentucky alone.
“Being in central Kentucky, it’s an emphasis for us, but that work that we do, the research that we do, and this is happening, it’s happening in California, it’s happening here in Kentucky, and then it’s happening elsewhere around the world all to really try and answer questions that we can apply universally to thoroughbred racing,” Page said.
University of Kentucky senior Rachel Poston said she’s learned a lot by studying the blood of horses, and this project has broadened her horizons even more.
“With horses, the research compared to the human medical field is not always the same as with horses. It’s really interesting that we can draw their blood, We can look at these biomarkers and we can do all of the same projects almost that we do in human medicine and apply them in a different manner,” Poston said.
Additional research is also underway in California. Kentucky researchers like Page hope that once that’s complete, they’ll have an even better idea of how to prevent and predict these injuries.
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“This testing that we’re doing may be part of a multi-step approach to identifying horses that are at risk for injury. I don’t know how long that’s going to take, I think we’ll get there and certainly there is support within the thoroughbred industry and there’s really a drive to get to that point. Hopefully in the next few years we’ll have something that really further improve safety and welfare,” Page said.