Could the UK horse industry benefit from an equine biobank?
This is the question a research project at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, is seeking to answer.
And its author is calling for input from horse owners.
The study, conducted by PhD student Laura Corbin, will explore the feasibility of collecting DNA samples from large numbers of animals for new genotyping technologies.
Ms Corbin’s research has so far focused on assessing the potential use of techniques such as DNA sequencing and gene mapping on osteochondrosis – a condition that affects the cartilage of growing horses.
It is believed that research into other diseases thought to have a genetic component, such as hypersensitivity and recurrent airway obstruction, could also benefit.
“We have seen phenomenal progress being made in the field of genetics, but one of the major limitations is a lack of samples and associated animal data,” said Ms Corbin.
“This is where a biobank could be invaluable.”
H&H vet Karen Coumbe said: “Any resource that helps to preserve equine genetic information for the future is likely to be a huge asset.
Jan Rogers of the British Equestrian Federation, which is helping to fund the study, said: “We want to know if people would be prepared to contribute data and what they see the potential benefits to be.”
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (12 April 2012)