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Research Roundup NC State Veterinary Medicine, February 2024

Healing is in our DNA at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. From infection and diseases in humans to pain in dogs, genetic conditions in cats and more, our researchers are finding new ways to treat and heal both animals and humans through innovative translational clinical research. 

Platelets in the bloodstream

Reviewing Medication Safety and Effectiveness in Early Parkinson’s Disease

Seppänen P, Forsberg MM, Tiihonen M, Laitinen H, Beal S, Dorman DC.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. The condition can place a lot of strain on the body over time and can make some people more vulnerable to serious infections. Early management of the disease could prolong patients’ ability to maintain their current lifestyle and improve their overall quality of life. Prior research on the efficacy and safety of two separate treatments – rasagiline and pramipexole – has pointed toward the medications as promising treatments. This study focused on the safety and efficacy of these drugs specifically in the early stages of Parkinson’s. The results of this systematic review, which included Dr. David Dorman from CVM’s Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences and NC State undergraduate researcher Selena Beal, showed moderate confidence in the efficiency of rasagiline or pramipexole in early Parkinson’s disease. Researchers suggest that further well-designed, comparative, randomized and controlled trials are needed for further information. 

The article was published in Parkinson’s Disease, and its results can be found here. 

Understanding the Babesia Parasite Species That Infect Dogs to Further Improve Treatment Options

Leisewitz AL, Mrljak V, Dear JD, Birkenheuer A.

Canine babesiosis is a common vector-borne infection that leads to disease in many parts of the developing world. Several species of the Babesia genus infect and cause clinical issues in dogs, but there has not been a lot of research comparing the differences in clinical problems that each Babesia species causes. This knowledge is imperative when it comes to developing new treatments. That is why, in this review, a team of international researchers, including NC State CVM’s Adam Birkenheuer, focused on what has already been reported about the clinical presentation of Babesia-infected dogs to see whether separate Babesia species cause differences in the disease’s severity. Researchers into possible treatments need to understand the different clinical manifestations various species can cause to clarify how the diseases initially develop, which is necessary to identify gene products for treatment and vaccines. 

The work was published in Pathogens and can be found here

Kitten lying down

Testing the Safety of Anti-Arrhythmic Drugs for Feline Heart Health

Salmon SJ, Coleman AE, Lynn CR, Sanders JE, Messenger KM.

Clinicians have few options to treat ventricular tachyarrhythmias in cats, which occurs when the lower chamber of the heart beats too fast to pump properly and the body doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood. The use of sotalol hydrochloride as an antiarrhythmic drug has been well-studied in people, dogs and horses, but not in felines. The objectives of this study, which included researchers from the NC State CVM’s Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences and collaborators from the University of Georgia, were to describe the pharmacokinetics of sotalol when administered intravenously and orally to healthy cats and to determine the extent of urinary elimination of sotalol, which is an important measure of a drug’s safety and proper dosing. Though further studies are needed, the results showed that oral administration of the sotalol formulation tested in the study resulted in no adverse effects after single or multiple doses. 

The study was published in the Journal of Veterinary Cardiology and can be found here.

Using Gene Sequencing to Identify Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens

Grinevich D, Harden S, Thakur S, Callahan B 

The ability to prevent and stop outbreaks caused by foodborne pathogens has become a major public health topic in recent years. Knowing how to detect when pathogenic bacteria are present in food and to identify connections between harmful bacteria in different samples is crucial to developing more effective approaches to protecting against future foodborne outbreaks. In a recent study from NC State’s Global One Health Academy and CVM’s Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, researchers developed a computational technology that allows the important foodborne pathogens Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica to be subtyped from the sequencing of a single-marker gene, the 16S rRNA gene often used to surveil bacterial communities. The results of the study suggest that there are limitations to using 16S rRNA gene sequencing alone to detect pathogens but that ever-progressing gene-sequencing and database technology could make this research direction more viable ,enabling better detection of pathogens before food reaches the public and improving how quickly we are able to stop outbreaks.

The study was published in Computational Biology and can be found here

Happy dog looking at the camera

Studying the Prevalence of Osteoarthritis in Young Dogs

Enomoto M, de Castro N, Hash J, Thomson A, Nakanishi-Hester A, Perry E, Aker S, Haupt E, Opperman L, Roe S, Cole T, Thompson N, Innes J.F. and Lascelles BDX

A recent study conducted by researchers from the Translational Research in Pain Program and Department of Clinical Sciences at NC State set out to determine the prevalence of osteoarthritis in young dogs. This study was first of its kind, as previous studies in this area of medicine have focused strictly on older dogs. Clinical researchers want to understand how osteoarthritis develops in younger dogs because early intervention can improve the outcomes for dogs as they age. More than 120 dogs across 40 breeds participated in the study, and radiographs showed that 39.8% of dogs had osteoarthritis in at least one joint. The information from this project provides a much-needed foundation for increasing awareness of osteoarthritis among veterinarians and dog owners, potentially leading to earlier intervention and treatment plans to help mitigate the impact for these dogs later in life. 

The full study was published in Scientific Reports and can be found here

Research Connection: Emphasizing Translational Research in Veterinary Critical Care to Improve Human and Feline Cardiovascular Health with Dr. Ronald Li

Dr. Ronald Li joined the NC State CVM’s Department of Clinical Sciences in fall of 2023 as an associate professor of Emergency and Critical Care. He obtained his DVM from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and pursued a Ph.D. in Integrative Pathobiology at the University of California, Davis. As a clinical researcher, Dr. Li focuses on understanding the cellular basis of the interaction between neutrophils and platelets in cardiovascular diseases and other forms of inflammation. He also studies novel antiplatelet therapy in cardiovascular diseases. Being an emergency and critical care specialist, Dr. Li emphasizes the value of translational medicine and its importance in progressing benchtop research into clinical studies in order to provide the highest quality and most efficient level of care to patients.