Veterinary scientists at the University of Liverpool will provide life-saving treatment for a five-year old horse rescued from squalid conditions at Spindle Farm in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

Veterinary scientists at the University of Liverpool will provide life-saving treatment for a five-year old horse rescued from squalid conditions at Spindle Farm in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

Duke developed sarcoids, which require immediate treatmentDuke was one of more than 100 horses removed from the farm in 2008. Officers found 28 dead horses and 84 others that were severely malnourished.

When rescued, Duke had a body condition score of 2 and weighed 393kg. He has since been recovering at The Horse Trust‘s Home of Rest for Horses, but has developed tumours on his eyelids that require treatment. The tumours, called sarcoids, are similar to skin cancers and are a common problem in horses, causing extreme irritation and painful swellings.

Duke will receive iridium wire treatment at the University of Liverpool’s Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital – the only centre in the UK to deliver the complex procedure.

Duke, 1 year after being rescued from AmershamProf Derek Knottenbelt explained: “Removing tumours surgically from the eyelids would be almost impossible because the scar tissue would leave the horse unable to blink. Instead we kill the diseased cells from within using iridium radiation treatment, where gamma radiation is delivered through wires inserted into the tumour.”

“The treatment will be delivered over a period of 10 days, during which we aim to eradicate the diseased cells to allow new healthy cells to grow in their place. The condition is very unpredictable, but we hope that Duke will make a good recovery.”

The procedure was first pioneered at the university in the 1970s by Geraint Wyn-Jones and Barrie Edwards and since then horses have arrived at the hospital from all over the world to be treated for the disease.

Duke will be treated at the university at no cost and will remain with the veterinary team for two weeks whilst he recovers from the procedure.

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