UI veterinarians use crowd-funding for anesthesia study

UI veterinarians use crowd-funding for anesthesia study

URBANA — If there was a chance that a part of undergoing surgery could be made safer for dogs, and it cost less than the price of a new economy car to find out, would you help?

Three University of Illinois veterinarians are hoping the public will donate to help raise $8,850 to fund a clinical trial to see if anesthesia — which is riskier for dogs than it is for people — can be made safer for man's best friend.

They've launched a crowd funding campaign at experiment.com/colddogs and have less than 60 days left to raise the money, according to Dr. Stuart Clark-Price, a UI veterinary anesthesiologist involved in the research.

Anesthesia is fatal in people about once in 100,000 to 250,000 cases, Clark-Price said. In dogs and cats, though, it's deadly once in 10,000 cases, and in horses, mortality rises to once in 100.

Clark-Price and the two UI veterinary surgeons he's working with, Dr. Heidi Phillips and Dr. Laura Selmic, want to start their research with dogs because dogs are the most commonly seen patient at the UI veterinary teaching hospital, he said.

But they'd also like to expand their research eventually to cats and then horses, Clark-Price said, and "we think it's something that could help any species."

There's a good reason the crowd funding campaign has "colddogs" in its name: A common complication of anesthesia in dogs is a low body temperature condition called hypothermia, which can result in serious side effects such as poorer wound healing, increased susceptibility to infections and damage to internal organs, Clark-Price said.

What the UI veterinarians want to test through the clinical study is the use of amino acids, which have been shown to work in managing body temperature in people.

Preliminary studies with the eight research dogs have shown intravenous infusion of amino acids is safe and doesn't cause any side effects in dogs, Clark-Price said, and the next step will be to find out it will be a useful treatment for body temperature management in anesthetized dogs.

In addition to the hope of increasing safety for dogs from anesthesia, Clark-Price said he and his fellow veterinarians hope to see additional benefits such as faster recoveries and lower hospital bills for dogs by reducing complications from hypothermia.

Why are they going the crowd funding route? Clark-Price said grant funding for veterinary research in the current economy is hard to come by.

"We've applied for grants, but the competition is incredible," he said.

They need to raise the full $8,850 to get any of what is donated, he said, and if they do, it will cover the cost of enrolling 20 female dogs in a trial in which the dogs will be anesthetized for spay procedures. The money will cover the cost of the procedures and all their lab work, he said.

People who contribute to the trial will get signed copies of the research manuscript and will be kept in the loop with lab notes through the website, he said.

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