Veterinary College Molecular Diagnostic Lab's focus has implications for human health, goal of private development

Blacksburg, Va.,--A Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory has been established in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, thanks to $50,000 in start-up funding from the Carilion Biomedical Institutes Optical Science Research and Engineering Center.

The laboratory will enable clinicians and scientists to investigate the genetic foundations of disease and may ultimately lead to spin-off corporations in the private sector, according to Mark Crisman, associate professor in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

Crisman, along with Steven Holladay, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, and Lioudmilla Sharova, laboratory specialist, will initially focus on four major projects.

Under Holladays leadership, the lab will support investigations to learn more about the role environmental toxins and contaminants may play in teratology, or the development of health disorders prior to birth. Holladay has been examining the role these substances may play in the development of immunological disorders.

A second focus will be Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in horses, an asthma like disease that causes severe respiratory problems in horses. Advances in understanding the mechanisms of that disorder may lead to improved treatments for human asthma.

Rick Howard, assistant professor in large animal clinical sciences, will use the laboratory to support his ongoing research into the molecular foundations of osteoarthritis in horses, another disorder that has significant comparative implications for human arthritis and degenerative joint disease.

Finally, the laboratory will provide support for investigations on how diabetes leads to pregnancy complications. The research team is also in the process of building a library of human, mouse, and horse "probes," genetic markers required in order to conduct microarray analysis. The laboratory will be equipped to conduct microarray analysis, a

Contact: Mark Crisman
Virginia Tech

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