The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University has tested an inexpensive drug to see if it can offer help for horses suffering from equine asthma. Equine asthma is difficult to manage and the treatment hasn't changed much in the last 20 years or so: Corticosteroids can be administered orally or injected to reduce inflammation of the tissues, but inhaled steroids aren't used much in the equine world because of their cost—as much as $300 per week.
Corticosteroids are not without their adverse effects—they can be especially hard on horses that have metabolic diseases. Dr. Melissa Mazan, an asthmatic herself, has been diligent in following asthma treatments in human medicine to see if there might be a crossover into the equine field. She came across a study that nebulized lidocaine and had people inhale it—with promising results. Mazan was particularly interested in this option as lidocaine is readily available and inexpensive, and it doesn't have many side effects.
Mazan and Dr. Daniela Bedenice created an open clinical trial, with second-year vet student Ananya Mahalingam-Dhingra as co-investigator. The trial was funded by an Advancement in Equine Research award from Boehringer Ingelheim.
Seven horses were chosen and assigned a lidocaine or saline nebulizing treatment twice a day for two weeks. Before the trial began, the researchers looked at lung function, exercise intolerance and inflammatory cells so they would be able to track any improvements at the conclusion of the study.
All five of the horses that did well on the study were receiving lidocaine, making it a viable option for horses that suffer from asthma.
Read more at TuftsNow.
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