Researchers make racehorses fertile

Feb 14, 2013
Researchers make racehorses fertile
This image shows the researchers: Professor Anders Miki Bojesen, University of Copenhagen, to the left in the picture and veterinarian Morten Rønn Petersen, Copenhagen University Hospital, to the right. Credit: University of Copenhagen/Photographer Henrik Petit.

Ten percent of mares have difficulties conceiving. But now two researchers from University of Copenhagen have discovered what the trouble is and have developed a product to help such horses become pregnant. Veterinarians from the world's largest horse hospital in the US state of Kentucky have successfully tested the discovery on 64 breeding mares.

The most common cause of a mare's reduced fertility is a chronic infection in the mucusal membrane of the uterus caused by the bacteria 'Streptococcus equi zooepidemicus'.

"We noticed that many horses that test negative for streptococci have a dormant infection without showing clinical symptoms. Despite the lack of symptoms, however, it still seems to reduce the fertility of the ," says Professor Anders Miki Bojesen, from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology at the University of Copenhagen.

But he and PhD Morten Rønn Petersen, who works at the Fertility Department at Copenhagen University Hospital, have found a solution to the problem. From their research, the two managed to activate the sleeping bacteria with an invention that they call Bactivate.

"Once you wake the bacteria you can diagnose the infection and treat the horses with regular antibiotics. Streptococci are usually not resistant to antibiotics, but during dormancy the metabolism is so low that are rendered useless. Bactivate is made up of signalling components that rouse the bacteria and lead them to quickly start dividing and multiplying like normal and treatable streptococci," says Anders Miki Bojesen.

Fertility restored

Bactivate was tested at one of the world's largest horse hospitals, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. The hospital is placed in Lexington, Kentucky, also known as 'the Horse Capital of the World'. The mares that received Bactivate developed substantial but treatable infections.

"We tested on 64 breeding mares at Hagyard that had demonstrated a substantially reduced ability to conceive. Following treatment, 83 percent of the mares got pregnant within one and a half month and 72 percent gave birth to a live foal. This means that fertility levels basically were normalized in mares that previously had not conceived for several cycles, some for years. When dormant streptococci were activated, the mares were treated and bred in the following cycle," Morten Rønn Petersen says.

Hagyard veterinarian Kristina Lu described the discovery as "an important step forward".

"At the end of the day it's an important diagnostic tool because it makes the bacteria grow which means it will definitely play an important role in fertility treatments," she adds.

Facts: Exclusive customers

The high success rate proved so encouraging that the hospital now has taken on the role of selling Bactivate in the US, while the researchers new company, 'Bojesen & Petersen Biotech', will produce it. Bactivate is developed for an exclusive group of customers and will initially be sold to treat some of the world's most valuable thoroughbreds. The best race horses can earn millions of dollars in prize money for their owners who can earn even more by breeding them.

Bactivate needs to be approved by the Danish Medicines Agency before it can be sold in Denmark. Copenhagen Spin-Outs at University of Copenhagen is helping the scientists develop their business.

Explore further: Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Horse blind date could lead to loss of foal

Mar 29, 2011

Foetal loss is a common phenomenon in domestic horses after away-mating, according to Luděk Bartoš and colleagues, from the Institute of Animal Science in the Czech Republic. When mares return home after mating ...

Hormonal therapy for older, pregnant horses?

Jan 24, 2011

Some horses have a history of early miscarriages and it has become customary to treat them with altrenogest, a type of progestin. The group of Christine Aurich at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna now for the ...

Argentine polo pony breeding boosted by biotech

Mar 31, 2011

Argentina is vastly expanding its breeding of its world class polo ponies thanks to the use of embryo transfers that help breeders get the most from their top-performing mares and stallions.

Endangered wild horses head to Mongolia

Jul 16, 2012

Four rare Przewalski's wild horses were headed for the Mongolian steppe from Prague on Monday as part of a project to reintroduce the critically endangered species to its ancient homeland.

Unmasking the matriarchs of thoroughbred racehorses

Oct 06, 2010

Thoroughbred racehorses have typically been associated with the highly-prized breeds of the Arabian Peninsula; but according to new research, their origins may be far more cosmopolitan than previously thought.

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.