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Research and Innovations

Research Roundup NC State Veterinary Medicine, May 2023

At NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, we aren’t just treating the cases but also researching the causes behind some of the most baffling conditions. From brain hemorrhages to blindness to asthma, every condition starts somewhere – and that’s what our researchers are continuously working to solve!  

Beagle dog jumping and running with a toy in a outdoor towards the camera

Looking for Symptoms of Dangerous Brain Bleeding Cases in Dogs

Christian Woelfel, Christopher Mariani, Michael Nolan, Erin Keenihan, Sophia Topulos, Peter Early, Karen Muñana, Sarah Musulin, Natasha Olby

Pituitary apoplexy is a clinical syndrome in humans that can occur when there’s a blockage in blood flow or bleeding in the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain. Although pituitary apoplexy has been studied thoroughly in human medicine, there has not been a lot of research in dogs or other companion animals. A team of College of Veterinary Medicine researchers from both our Department of Clinical Sciences and Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences worked together on a retrospective case study to describe the historical findings, clinical abnormalities and outcomes in 26 dogs with pituitary apoplexy, aiming to gain a better understanding of what symptoms dogs presented with by looking back at the different cases and their clinical information from medical records and MRI imaging reports.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine and can be found here.

Comparing the Pros and Cons of Different Animal Models to Further Asthma Research 

Jane Seymour Woodrow, M Katie Sheats, Bethanie Cooper, Rosemary Bayless

Asthma is a very well-known and lifelong disease in humans that can lead to a permanent decrease in lung function. As with many diseases, animal models are essential for not only discovering more about the molecular pathways behind asthma but also how we treat it. A recent review, led by researchers from the Department of Clinical Sciences and the Comparative Medicine Institute, looked at the various models used for asthma research and discussed their translational application to human asthma, weighing the pros and cons of each species. The species most commonly used to study asthma include the mouse, rat, guinea pig, cat, dog, sheep, horse and nonhuman primate; however, there are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about which model to evaluate in a study. The reviewers put special emphasis on how veterinarians, physicians and researchers can be collaborative in the overarching goal of better defining asthma pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment.

The study was published in Cells and can be found here

toad sitting on sand

Improving Toad Conservation Strategies by Understanding Their Immune Response to Pathogens

Kara Carlson, Dustin Wcisel, Hayley Ackerman, Jessica Romanet, Emily Christiansen, Jennifer Niemuth, Christina Williams, Matthew Breen, Michael Stoskopf, Alex Dornburg, Jeffrey Yoder

The Wyoming toad, native only to the Laramie Basin in Albany County, Wyoming, was briefly thought to be extinct in the wild and still relies on captive breeding to help support the population. At least part of the reason for their population decline is fungal disease, but unfortunately there has not been a lot of research on the species’ immunogenetics – the genetics that establish the immune system and its responses. A recent study that included researchers from our Departments of Clinical Sciences and Molecular Biomedical Sciences analyzed several components of the toad’s immune system to create a foundation of knowledge that will support further studies on the genetic diversity of the species and help improve breeding strategies to increase successful releases into the wild. Because these toads have such a small geographic range and a history of rapid population decline, it is critical for their survival that researchers continue to investigate their immunogenetic diversity to keep disease from further threatening their population. 

The study was published in Conservation Genetics and can be read here.

Evaluating the Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Antimicrobial Use in Companion Animals

Ashlan Jolley, William Love, Erin Frey, Cristina Lanzas

Antimicrobial resistance is an important topic across both human and veterinary medicine. Because resistance can reduce drug effectiveness, the most important strategy we have to combat this issue is prescribing appropriate and judicious antimicrobial use. Researchers from our Departments of Clinical Sciences and Population Health and Pathobiology wanted to see whether they could quantify how the COVID-19 pandemic affected antimicrobial drug prescribing practices for companion animals. To do this, the team conducted a study using a model that estimated the probability of more important antimicrobials being administered in patients seen during the pandemic versus before. The results of the study indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on several areas of antimicrobial prescribing for companion animals.

The study was published in Zoonoses and Public Health and can be read here.

Veterinarian examine on the eyes of a dog dachshund. Cataract eyes of dog. Medical and Health care of pet concept

 Researching the Origin and Development of Blindness in Dogs with SARDS

Alex Lynch, Laura Ruterbories, James Robertson, Katharine Lunn, Freya Mowat

Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome, commonly referred to as SARDS, is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in dogs. However, the pathogenesis, meaning the origination and development of the disease, is not completely understood so SARDS is a very difficult disease to catch early before the onset of vision loss. To help better identify and treat SARDS promptly, a team of researchers that included faculty and staff from our Department of Clinical Sciences conducted a study to better understand the underlying pathogenesis of the disease and potential correlations with similar conditions, with the aim of providing a stronger link between immune system activation and retinal disease.

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

Research Connection: Collaboration Drives Innovation – The Link Between Forensic Science and Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Kelly Meiklejohn 

Dr. Kelly Meiklejohn is an associate professor of forensics in our Department of Population Health and Pathobiology. Before that, she was completing a postdoctoral fellowship with the Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit of the FBI Laboratory, in Quantico, Virginia. She joined the College of Veterinary Medicine because of the collaborative community that allows her to broaden the scope of her research, like applying new technologies to scenarios where additional information could prove vital to an investigation. Hear about her lab’s latest projects, exciting upcoming collaborations and what she thinks makes the NC State community a driving force across all fields of science!