October 14, 2010
Contact: Larry Kinneer
Aurora, CO (October 14, 2010) – The recent announcement by Cornell University of the commercial availability of a direct DNA test for Lavender Foal Syndrome is a direct result of funding from the Arabian Horse Foundation. Lavender Foal Syndrome (LFS) is a lethal neurologic disorder known to affect Arabians.
“The availability of the test culminates years of research by Cornell researchers and grants totaling $4,500 from the Arabian Horse Foundation,” states AHF President Larry Kinneer. “The AHF board is gratified by the progress made possible in part by our financial support and applauds the work done by Cornell researchers. We are grateful to our AHF Equine Research Advisory Panel, which is chaired by Beth Minnich.
The success of the research project and subsequent development of the test “should send a strong message to supporters of the Foundation,” Kinneer adds. “When people donate to a cause they like to know if their gift is making a difference. In this case, there is no doubt. While many share in the success of the development of the test, it is those members who contributed to the Foundation who are to be praised and thanked. There was a task and challenge, and they responded.”
LFS research has been limited in large part due to the lack of available affected foal samples for organized research projects and very limited funding. But, in 2008, the research landscape changed and Cornell University, in conjunction with the Arabian Horse Foundation, initiated a new study on LFS to locate the mutation responsible and develop a direct DNA test. The results from this study were published earlier this year in the April 15 issue of PLoS Genetics and a direct DNA test is now commercially available from the Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center.
Minnich says, “Having a test available for LFS will enable breeders to test their breeding stock, so they can make informed breeding decisions.” As with testing for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) and Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA), the ability to identify carriers prior to making mating selections can prevent the breeding of two carriers and the production of affected foals can be reduced to zero. “The technology that has become available with the mapping of the equine genome will continue to provide tools for owners and breeders to use to help manage the health of their horses,” says Minnich. “With donation support to the Arabian Horse Foundation, the Arabian horse community can be actively involved in these research efforts. The only thing limiting our potential is money.”
Information on ordering the LFS test is available at: www.arabianhorses.org/education/genetic/docs/10Genetic_LFS_Test_Info.pdf
Additional information on LFS and other genetic disorders of interest to Arabian horse owners and breeders is available at: www.arabianhorses.org/education/genetic/default.asp
The Arabian Horse Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of the Arabian Horse Association, was re-launched at the 2007 AHA Convention. With the re-launch, the Foundation added Equine Research and Equine Rescue and Rehoming to Scholarships as different areas where people can designate their gifts. “We have seen increasing support of these two areas, and thanks to two advisory panels who make recommendations to the Foundation, we believe we have and continue to spend gift dollars wisely,” Kinneer states. “The Foundation board members take seriously the responsibility they have as stewards of the financial gifts members contribute.”
In the past three years, the Foundation has given out nearly $75,000 in grants and scholarships. Over 70 Arabian horse youth have benefited from scholarships in those three years, in addition to many others in previous years. In addition to Cornell University, UC Davis has received Foundation support totaling $11,000 to continue research into Cerebellar Abiotrophy. The Foundation is also involved with a new project this year at Cornell to study Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and Equine Cushing’s Disease (ECD) in Arabians.
Cerebellar Abiotrophy, or CA as it is called, is a degenerative disease of the brain where the Purkinje cells in the cerebellum die, which results in a severe lack of coordination. Arabians are known to be affected by this disorder. Funding will assist researchers in locating the exact mutation involved and developing a direct DNA test for CA.
The Foundation has set aside funds for assistance in rescue and rehoming where time is of the essence. The Foundation’s Rescue and Rehoming panel, chaired by Carol Darnell, assists in funding designation.
A year ago, the Foundation achieved wide-spread publicity with the announcement of a scholarship to honor deceased movie actor and Arabian horse owner Patrick Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi. “The story of the establishment of the scholarship by the Arabian Horse Foundation appeared in over 1,000 news publications throughout the United States and the rest of the world,” Kinneer says. “This served to heighten the name recognition and efforts of the Foundation.”
The Foundation continues to seek financial support from AHA members. Contributions can be made when renewing or becoming a member, by checking a box on the membership form. A person can also make a donation on the Foundation’s web site, through PayPal, or send a check to AHA made out to the Foundation, indicating their area of designation. “Any gift is appreciated. If everyone gives a little, it all adds up,” Kinneer says. For more information about the Foundation or to make a contribution, go to www.arabianhorsefoundation.org/. In addition to Kinneer, other members of the Foundation board are Lollie Ames, Nancy Harvey, Jim Cada, Frank Galovic and C.A. Butler.