The Agnew Laboratory focuses on comparative reproductive pathology, zoo and wildlife pathology, conservation biology, infectious diseases in the bovine reproductive tract, and international development and livestock diseases, particularly in Ghana.

Dalen Agnew, DVM, PhD, DACVP, is researching reproductive lesions of captive suids, ovarian carcinoma in jaguars, reproductive lesions of polar bears, reproductive and aporcine gland disease of African painted dogs, and digital tools to enhance pathology collaborations with colleagues in Africa.

Phi Zeta Day 2022

The Agnew lab did a fantastic job presenting their posters at the 2022 Phi Zeta Day.

Agnew Lab Phi Zeta Day 2022

Current Research

Disney Conservation Grant – African Painted Dog

African Painted Dog

The African Painted Dog (APD) has a high incidence of endometrial hyperplasia and pyometra which poses a health risk to female APD and hinders our ability to sustain the population.

Pyometra is a potentially life-threatening uterine infection that occurs in canids but is unusually prevalent in APD. This disease can have profound effects on the reproductive success and sustainability of this species. This project is designed to use genetic and environmental data to identify risk factors for pyometra in this species and to eventually develop a biomarker for pyometra which could allow the SSP and veterinarians to make informed decisions on how to address this issue.

This work will benchmark the current level of reproductive uterine disease in this endangered species, identify important environmental and husbandry factors associated with this disease that can be used to immediately impact their management, and identify potential genes that may serve as biomarkers for at-risk individuals.

Recent Publications

DEK Aptamer Osteoarthritis Treatment

Osteoarthritis (OA) afflicts approximately 10% of adult dogs, and the percentages are growing due to aging and the “bulk” of the modern population. Current treatments for osteoarthritis include oral medications (which are usually NSAIDs), intra-articular steroids, and intra-articular hyaluronic acid. Unfortunately, these treatments can come with unwanted side effects that can be further detrimental to the dog’s health. NSAIDs can cause substantial gastrointestinal, renal, and cardiac side effects. Intra-articular steroids harm cartilage and can thus worsen underlying disease, and intra-articular hyaluronic acid is of unclear efficacy at this time.

Osteoarthritis was previously considered a disease of wear and tear, however, it is now recognized to be caused by both acute and chronic inflammation. Recently, a new target for osteoarthritis therapy has emerged in the form of alarmins. Alarmins are released from damaged or dying cells and can initiate a noninfectious inflammatory response by interacting with pattern recognition receptors. Dr. David M. Markovits of the University of Michigan and Dr. Jane Manfredi of Michigan State University have invented, tested, and patented an aptamer molecule that can inactivate a key alarmin found in OA cases, the DEK protein. The anti DEK aptamer (aDEKa) is a single simple strand of DNA that shows considerable promise for the treatment of OA. We have documented that the aptamer is taken up into cells and had/s the potential to work intracellularly. The dogs' baseline measurements have been accomplished, and we are now further investigating the aptamers affect on chemotaxis in vitro.