Martin Nielsen, equine parasitologist, veterinarian and assistant professor at the University of Kentucky (UK) Gluck Equine Research Center, has launched the first research crowdfunding project at UK and possibly the first such effort in the field of veterinary science.
Crowdfunding is a relatively new term that describes reaching out to the general public, usually through the internet, to reach a fundraising goal. Success in reaching the goal often depends on many individuals making smaller donations through a website.
Nielsen's crowdfunding campaign, called "Let the germs get the worms: Testing a novel probiotic compound for treatment of equine parasites," is hosted at the website http://equineparasitology.ca.uky.edu/ and has a goal of raising $30,000 before March 10.
Nielsen's research team is devoted to providing solutions for worm control in horses, the university said. Horse parasites, such as small strongyles and large roundworm, are developing increased levels of resistance to all available dewormers. No new drugs are being developed for use in horses, so the equine industry needs new reliable treatment alternatives, the announcement said.
"It is our experience that horse owners are very interested in updated information about parasite control and have great concerns about drug resistance," Nielsen said. "We therefore felt that crowdfunding would be very appropriate for raising funding for research in this area. The crowdfunding platform allows direct interaction with the end users of our research, which is very valuable to us. A good question can inspire us to set up the next research project."
Researchers at the University of California have identified a naturally-occurring bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, which produces a crystal protein capable of killing intestinal worms without harming the animal. UK's study aims to evaluate the effect of this bacterial protein against important horse parasites under laboratory conditions. Parasites will be collected from horses in a research herd and tested in the laboratory.