Researchers at the University of Glasgow think they may have found a new and more practical cure for sarcoids, following successful laboratory tests.
It is hoped that a new non-toxic cream, to be applied directly to the sarcoid, could be available by 2015.
Sarcoids are skin tumours caused by the bovine papillomavirus and can number from one to hundreds of lumps on any one horse.
“This research is the first of its kind in horses as nobody has managed to kill the virus successfully before,” said Professor Lubna Nasir of the University of Glasgow.
The tests, which were carried out in vitro and funded by the Horse Trust, have identified a viral protein in sarcoid cells that is key to the survival of the disease.
By inhibiting this protein, researchers found that sarcoid growth reduced and the cells were eventually killed off.
Prof Nasir is now looking for funding to carry out clinical trials on horses afflicted by the skin disease, which affects 6-7% of the UK’s horses.
Lorna Davis from Kent has had two horses successfully treated for sarcoids.
“The injections were great, but cost £100 each,” she said.
“I also tried a cream but it could only be applied by the vet which meant regular and expensive call-out fees. A treatment you can use yourself would be much better.”
H&H vet Karen Coumbe added: “There’s no magic cure for sarcoids and the sooner something successful becomes available, the better.”
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (25 February, ’10)