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Inaugural pharmacology grant recipients announced

News
Article

The awarded researchers are researching projects that will improve the health and welfare of cheetahs, pigeons, and sheep

Raul/stock.adobe.com

Raul/stock.adobe.com

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and Veterinary Pharmacology Research Foundation (VPRF) shared the recipients of the 2023-24 pharmacology research grants. The research grants, being given to veterinary professionals for the first time, awarded 3 researchers funding to help support their research projects that are working to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatments of diseases in animals.

Danielle Mzyk, DVM, PhD, a field service clinical veterinarian in the department of population health and pathobiology at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. According to the release,1 Myzk’s project received $29,686 to identify drug absorption and distribution differences in wool versus hair sheep through flunixin, a recently approved, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Because of the variability of sheep breeds across the United States, the need to evaluate the efficiency of transdermal flunixin across different coat times is critical.

“We are thrilled to have the support of the AVMF/VPRF to gain further understanding of treatment options for relieving pain in sheep. Our research group will be able to investigate key factors in the treatment of pain across different breeds of sheep that are clinically affected by foot rot, a painful infection of the hoof,” said Mzyk, in the release.1 “Ultimately, we hope that our study will help improve the understanding of pain mitigation in sheep and encourage the development of effective pain management protocols with veterinarians and producers.”

Along with their research, the group will use the information from pressure sensor mat gait analysis and algometry to create ways to ease the pain clinical patients experience.

Stephen J. Divers, BVetMed, DZooMed, DECZM (Herp, ZHM), DACZM, FRCVS, a professor of zoological medicine at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine was a recipient of one of these grants. His project received $8,900 and focuses on finding a safer option for sedating birds in clinical practice.1 Alpha-2 adrenergic agonists are commonly used for sedation, but they can have negative side effects that can impair breathing and heart function during sedation.

“We are so grateful for this grant awarded by AVMF and VPRF to fund our research to study a new sedation medication (Zenalpha) in pigeons. Our hope is that this research will advance the options for safe sedation in birds and open the door to evaluation of this medication in common pet birds for use in daily clinical practice,” expressed Divers.1

The study will work to determine if Zenalpha has fewer heart and respiratory side effects when compared to alpha-2 adrenergic agonists in pigeons. The researchers will compare the heart rate and character, breathing patterns, and sedation depth between pigeons receiving a Zenalpha injection versus pigeons receiving a dexmedetomidine injection.

The third grant was awarded to Melanie Peel, DVM, a zoological medicine resident at the University of California-Davis in collaboration with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.1 She has received a $3,000 grant and will use the funding to assess sedative effects and evaluate blood levels and metabolism in African cheetahs once they have received a dose of gabapentin.

“The gracious support of the AVMF/VPRF is vital to the success of our research and their contribution will allow us to finish the final steps necessary to complete our study. The results of this research will provide the zoological medicine community with much-needed pharmacokinetic knowledge that will help improve the quality of veterinary medicine provided to large exotic cats, like cheetahs,” said Peel.

According to the release, African cheetahs within multiple zoological institutions will receive an oral dose of gabapentin in 2 different dosages. The study will hopefully give researchers a better understanding of appropriate dosages and the level of sedation that occurs when using gabapentin for sedating African cheetahs.

Reference

AVMF, VPRF pharmacology grant recipients undertake research projects. News release. American Veterinary Medical Association. January 30, 2024. Accessed February 1, 2024. https://www.avma.org/news/avmf-vprf-pharmacology-grant-recipients-undertake-research-projects

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