The RVC undertakes a large number of clinical studies involving veterinary patients who return to the care of their owners at the end of each procedure.

In all cases, owner informed consent is obtained to allow the animal to be involved in research and owners are free to withdraw their animals from the study at any point.

Refusal to allow their animal to be involved in any study does not influence the standard of care offered to the animal.

See below for information on the these types of study.

Studies that use residual samples

Retrospective and prospective studies often use clinical data collected during the routine veterinary care of animals treated by the RVC first opinion veterinary practices and referral hospitals. In addition, residual samples, which are the left-over parts of samples (e.g. of blood, urine or tissue) that were obtained during routine veterinary practice are placed in storage for subsequent use for research projects. Our hospital consent forms contain a statement asking owners to opt in or opt out of allowing this clinical data and these residual samples for research and educational purposes. No residual samples are used unless consent was given by the owner at the time of hospitalisation for this to occur and all data is anonymised. Refusal to allow their animal to be involved in any study does not influence the standard of care offered to the animal.

Investigation of the safety and efficacy of SG2000 in dogs with spontaneous malignancies

Client owned dogs were enrolled in a clinical trial investigating the safety and efficacy of a novel anti-cancer drug.

To be enrolled in the study dogs had to have a measurable malignant tumour (diagnosis confirmed by cytology or histopathology) and to have either failed recognised treatment for their cancer, or conventional treatment was not suitable for other reasons.

Informed owner consent was obtained to participate in the study. Patients were monitored carefully for toxicity (recording adverse events) and efficacy via tumour measurements, either made clinically with calipers or typically by CT scans.

Blood samples were collected to study the rate at which the drug was excreted from the body in these clinical patients

Equine Laminitis Research

 A prospective study that examined tests that predict the likelihood that a pony will develop laminitis in the future has recently been completed. This project recruited over 200 client-owned ponies to this study from local livery yards and involved six monthly visits to the stables over a 4 year period. The study found that ponies with high blood insulin concentrations either normally or after being given a small amount of sugar to eat had the highest risk of developing laminitis for the first time.

For more information see New RVC study reveals the importance of monitoring insulin in predicting laminitis in ponies.

RVC researchers are currently working on a way of objectively assessing quality of life in horses and ponies with the hormone condition known as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID or Equine Cushing’s disease) as around 50% of animals with PPID develop laminitis. This study will recruit and follow 140 client-owned horses and ponies newly diagnosed with PPID over a two-year period to see how their quality of life is impacted by the disease and whether treatment with the drug pergolide – currently licensed for the treatment of PPID – improves quality of life.

For more information see The RVC to develop ground-breaking tool that assesses quality of life for horses and ponies with common hormone disorder.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) in Cats

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common disease of heart muscle in cats, and is inherited in some pedigree breeds.

In two separate studies we have been screening pedigree cats and Norwegian Forest cats for HCM using ultrasound scanning (echocardiography), a noninvasive test carried out without the need for sedation or anaesthesia.

At the same time we took blood samples to evaluate the use of two commercially available blood tests (NT-proBNP and troponin-I) for the detection of early HCM.

The study was performed under Home Office licence because the analysis of the blood tests was delayed (to allow us to analyse all the samples together), and so the results were not immediately available to the owner and referring vet of each cat.

Collection of blood from healthy dogs for control purposes

Blood collected from the neck vein from healthy canine blood donors after written informed consent was granted by their owners was used in a variety of experiments in the lab to investigate cells that regulate the immune response as a part of a research programme into both cancer and autoimmune diseases of pet dogs presenting as veterinary patients.

We hope that such studies will not only identify novel ways of making a diagnosis, thus allowing the most appropriate treatments to be used in individual dogs, but will also yield novel treatments to improve canine welfare on a global scale.

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