Canine Research Grant Awards for 2009
It is a Public Charitable Trust providing funds for research conducted at Australian universities and directed at improvement of canine health. Funds are generated via the levy on puppy registrations, fund raising functions, tax-deductible donations and bequests from the public. The CRF was founded by the VCA in 1992 and a total of 71 research grants have been awarded to date.
In the assessment of new applications for awarding of research grants, the review process has three stages: -
- A technical review panel to assess scientific merit and relevance to canine health;
- A review by Member Bodies’ Canine Health Committees for their input on relevance;
- A review by CRF Trustees to:
(a) ensure projects fit within the Foundation’s Trust Deed
(b) award research grants to fit within available financial constraints and recommendations from the above reviews.
In the latest round of applications for research commencing in 2009, eight applications were received and four were awarded grants, with brief details of the successful applications given below.
Grants Awarded for Research Commencing in 2009
1. Project Title: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as a predictor of stifle pathology in naturally occurring cruciate ligament disease in dogs.
Project Leader: Dr. Andrew Dart, University of Sydney.
Grant: $19,500 for 2009.
Cruciate ligament disease is the most common cause of lameness in dogs. This is a debilitating condition commonly affecting young adult large breed dogs and frequently affecting both stifles. Diagnosis is by physical examination, radiography and with visualisation at time of surgery via either arthrotomy (incision) or arthroscopy (endoscope). There is evidence that arthroscopy is inferior to arthrotomy in detecting cruciate ligament and meniscal injury and so it is generally preferred. However arthrotomy in healthy stifle joints leads to osteoarthritis. Arthroscopy is less invasive but still has inherent risks.
MRI imaging of the stifle joint for detection of cruciate ligament and meniscal injury is well established in humans. MRI of the normal dog stifle has been described but there is a conspicuous lack of research on the subject.
The aim of the project is to compare MRI to visual assessments of joints at surgery. The information gained from the proposed research will potentially be used to promote the non-invasive benefits of MRI as a diagnostic tool for stifle disease in dogs.
2. Project Title: Canine superficial pyoderma: should we be concerned about multidrug resistant Staphylococcus species?
Project Leader: Dr. Linda Vogelnest, University of Sydney,
Grant: $18,900 spread over 2009-2010.
Superficial bacterial pyoderma (pus-forming skin disease) is a very common secondary dermatosis in dogs. Historically in such cases, microbial culture has been considered unnecessary for diagnosis and treatment, as the causal bacteria are almost uniformly Staphlyococcus species with a high and predictable antibiotic sensitivity. Recently, however, there is an apparent emergence of resistant Staphylococcus species around the world, similar to the trends with superficial pyoderma in humans.
Central to investigation of any infectious disease is determining which infectious agent or agents are responsible for the pathogenesis of disease. It is incorrect to assume that organisms resistant to antimicrobial agents have the necessary virulence factors to be involved in causation of disease. There is a need for information on ideal bacterial culture techniques. Skin surface bacterial culture may represent pathogenic bacteria or normal skin surface flora incidental to disease. It is also unclear if single or multiple bacteria species are typically involved.
The aims of the proposed study are:
- To investigate the most appropriate method/s for bacterial culture of naturally occurring superficial bacterial pyoderma in dogs.
- To evaluate the species and antimicrobial sensitivity patterns for bacteria associated with superficial bacterial pyoderma in pet dogs, including the prevalence of methicillin-resistant or multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus species.
- Use specialised DNA hybridisation techniques to determine the location and likely involvement of each bacterial species within skin biopsies from pet dogs with naturally occurring superficial pyoderma.
3. Project Title: Characterisation of canine adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells for treatment of diseases and disorders in dogs.
Project Leader: Dr. Paul Sheehy, University of Sydney.
Grant: $40,000 spread over 2009-2010.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) reside in various body tissues and play a role in cellular renewal processes in normal healthy animals. MSCs can be harvested and re-administered with the ability to differentiate into a range of tissue types for therapeutic purposes. However, the conditions required for high purity culture and unambiguous identification have yet to be determined.
MSCs have already been successfully used in humans for cartilage and bone repair, heart regeneration following cardiac infarction, neuronal regeneration and wound healing. Veterinary applications in dogs may include repair of fractures, cartilage repair, relief of osteoarthritis and treatments of hip dysplasia. While there is a large body of work investigating the basic biology of human MSCs and applications in various laboratory animal models, there is relatively little published research for the treatment of diseases of significance in the dog.
The specific aims of this project are: -
- Establish cell culture methodologies from canine surgical waste (adipose tissue) based on published methods.
- Screen cell cultures for surface markers to optimise cell isolation procedures and population homogeneity.
- Evaluate cell labelling techniques for subsequent in vivo application.
4. Project Title: An integrated genomics source for the health and well-being of dogs in Australia.
Project Leader: A/Professor Peter Williamson, University of Sydney.
Grant: $48,000 spread over 2009-2010.
Many dog breeds are susceptible to specific diseases because of their genetic background. The dog genome has been entirely sequenced, and recent advances in DNA sequence data acquisition together with development of information technology provide a basis for a detailed dissection of the genetic component of these diseases, which can then be incorporated into disease management and eradication plans.
The fundamental biological resources, most commonly DNA (preferably with related material), that are the platform for such studies are most effective when organised into a well managed collection, commonly referred to as a “biobank”. The Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney is in a very strong position to be a leader in this area with its expertise in animal genomics and access to clinical cases of inherited diseases. An integrated Australian resource and collaboration with overseas veterinary schools will enable studies to determine genetic composition, determine disease gene prevalence, develop breeding and prevention strategies, understand disease pathophysiology, allow development of novel therapies and provide an educational resource.
Initial aims of the proposed project are: -
- To collect samples from representative sires, dams and offspring of established dog breeds that are registered in Australia.
- To establish a curated collection of clinical case and control biological samples from dogs that enter the veterinary clinics of the university and associated veterinary practices as patients.
- To develop an integrated database with on-line links to existing public and veterinary resources.
The CRF is always keen to receive input of suggested research topics for referral to universities as the basis of research grant applications. Breed clubs/councils are invited to nominate research topics and forward them in writing to the ANKC Administrator for consideration by January 31 each year.
Donations and Bequests
Research grants are always limited by availability of funds, so that worthwhile projects may miss out. Breed clubs/councils and individual persons wishing to assist in this important research directed at improvement of canine health are invited to do so via donations or bequests. If they so desire, they may nominate a new or existing research topic related to their breed to receive the funding. Initial contact should be with the ANKC Administrator who will put you in touch with an appropriate person for discussion regarding the prospect.
Canine Research Foundation Trustee