Point-of-care assay launched for diagnosing and treating equine Cushing disease


The diagnostic tool tests eACTH in plasma from horses and is compatible with Zomedica’s existing in-clinic platform

Horse with Cushing disease

Photo: Grubärin/Adobe Stock

A new assay that tests for endogenous adrenocorticotropic hormone (eACTH) in equine plasma has been launched on the commercial market by Zomedica. Compatible with the company’s Truforma In-Clinic Biosensor Testing Platform, the new assay is a “compact, easy to use, and durable” point-of-care tool, according to the company.1

"This assay enables equine veterinarians in the clinic or at the stall to diagnose equine [Cushing] disease, known clinically as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), and monitor positive patients as they titrate therapy," said Larry Heaton, chief executive officer for Zomedica, in an organizational release. The assay is designed to “meet the needs of clinical veterinarians in ways that promote both patient and practice health,” he added.1

PPID or Cushing's disease is one of the most common endocrine disorders in horses and ponies.1,2 Affecting all equine breeds, PPID is diagnosed in ponies and Morgan horses at a higher rate. More than 85% of equines diagnosed with the condition are aged 15 years or older, with the average age of these patients with PPID being 20 years. However, the disease has been diagnosed in horses as young as 7 years.2 

A 2018 global study published in The Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research revealed that most equine veterinarians have encountered patients with PPID. Additionally, 71% of all veterinarians participating in the survey, including general and large animal practitioners, expressed that PPID is an important disease for horses.3

Although complete resolution or remission for PPID is seldom achieved through treatment, providing care is critical for improving the quality of life for animals with the disease and may temporarily overcome infertility in mares.2 Patients with PPID also have a shortened life expectancy when the condition is left undiagnosed or untreated.1

Hormones including cortisol play a critical role in PPID. Clinical signs of PPID can vary and are associated with abnormally elevated hormones in the blood. One of the most well-known symptoms is hirsutism, which is a likely indicator of the disease in an older horse with a long, curly hair coat that fails to shed properly. Additional symptoms include excessive drinking and urination, laminitis, lethargy, excessive sweating, muscle mass loss, infertility, insulin resistance, and bulging eyes as well as recurring infections such as sole abscesses, tooth root infections, and sinusitis, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners.2

The measurement of baseline eACTH is widely accepted as the most effective way to help diagnose PPID and plays an essential role in disease management, according to Zomedica. Current testing of eACTH levels requires special handling of blood samples and shipping to remote laboratories, which puts samples at risk for degradation or loss. The new eACTH assay for equine plasma provides equine veterinarians with the ability to diagnose and screen for PPID, and monitor patients with PPID under their care, in their own facilities.1

Adrian Lock, vice president and general manager of Zomedica, noted in the release that the company anticipates the eACTH becoming a tool that is used daily by equine veterinarians as they care for horses that are susceptible to PPID. "There are approximately 2500 equine veterinary practices in the US and currently over 1200 of them routinely use our PulseVet shock wave system. This will allow us to rapidly engage with the equine veterinary community to quickly bring this vital screening technology to patients," he said.1


  1. Zomedica announces expansion of market opportunity for Truforma diagnostic platform with launch of first-and-only point of care eACTH assay for diagnosis and management of Cushing’s disease in horses. News release. Zomedica. September 14, 2023. Accessed September 14, 2023. https://www.accesswire.com/783875/zomedica-announces-expansion-of-market-opportunity-for-truformar-diagnostic-platform-with-launch-of-first-and-only-point-of-care-eacth-assay-for-diagnosis-and-management-of-cushings-disease-in-horses
  2. Equine Cushings disease: equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction. American Association of Equine Practitioners. Accessed September 14, 2023. https://aaep.org/issue/equine-cushings-disease-equine-pituitary-pars-intermedia-dysfunction
  3. Stillwell N. Equine Cushing disease around the world. dvm360. October 16, 2018. Accessed September 14, 2023. https://www.dvm360.com/view/equine-cushing-disease-around-the-world
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