Our current research in cardiovascular and respiratory diseases


An intelligent stethoscope for detecting hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats

Clinical Research Project Grant (joint-funded with the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society): £10,000 awarded in 2023

Institution: University of Cambridge

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) affects up to 1 in 6 cats and is currently diagnosed by echocardiography which is expensive and requires a cardiologist referral. Many cats with HCM have heart murmurs but standard stethoscopes are not capable of differentiating HCM and physiological murmurs.

This study aims to develop a smart stethoscope with an inbuilt AI algorithm that will help GP vets diagnose HCM.


Assessment of hypercoagulability in dogs with ischaemic cerebrovascular infarcts

Clinical Research Project Grant: £7,566 awarded in 2022

Institution: RVC

An ischaemic cerebrovascular infarct, or stroke, occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. At present, there is no specific therapy and treatment is supportive only. Death or lack of improvement is reported in approximately half of all affected dogs and up to one third of cases may experience recurrent strokes. Approximately 50% of canine stroke cases are associated with an underlying condition such as chronic kidney disease or hyperadrenocorticism. The underlying causes are poorly understood, although an increased tendency of the blood to clot (a hypercoagulable state) has been documented in several cases.

This study is exploring the association between coagulation status, outcome and underlying conditions in canine stroke patients to better inform decisions regarding anti-thrombotic therapy and anticoagulation, and provide prognostic information.


Do measurements of circulating fibrosis markers change with disease progression in canine myxomatous mitral valve disease?

Clinical Research Project Grant (joint-funded with the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society): £9953 awarded in 2021

Institution: University of Bristol

The inherited disorder myxomatous mitral valve disease (MMVD) is the most common canine heart disease, affecting millions of dogs worldwide. In around 40% of affected dogs, the heart will enlarge, leading to heart failure and death. As the heart enlarges, myocardial fibrosis occurs and becomes more severe as disease progresses. This work will use blood tests at different timepoints to measure collagen formation and breakdown, with the aim of investigating its relationship with heart enlargement and how this changes over time. This will provide additional insight into myocardial remodelling and help to design better interventions.



Past research in this area


Investigating the potential therapeutic effects of senolytic drugs in canine myxomatous mitral valve disease

Student Research Project Grant: £1857 awarded in 2022

Institution: University of Edinburgh

MMVD is an example of an age-dependent degenerative condition. This group previously identified cell senescence in both canine valve tissue and valve interstitial cells cultured from diseased valve (aVICs). The aim of this undergraduate study was to investigate if senolytic drugs could reverse senescence in aVICs and thereby have potential therapeutic benefit.

Primary cultures of mitral valves from dogs with and without disease were assessed for markers of cellular senescence and apoptosis following treatment with the senolytic drugs Quercetin and Dasatinib. Treatment with senolytics was found to reverse senescence while enhancing apoptosis, but further studies are needed to determine to what extent senolytics remove aVICs or return them to a normal quiescent phenotype. These findings suggest there is a potential future use of senolytics as an extra therapeutic in the treatment of MMVD to slow the progression of disease.

Findings were presented as an abstract at BSAVA Congress 2023, which can be freely accessed here.


Effect of deformed skull base morphology on nasopharyngeal narrowing and BOAS severity in pugs, French bulldogs, and bulldogs

Student Research Project Grant: £2300 awarded in 2021

Institution: University of Cambridge

Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) is a multilesional disease. This undergraduate study examined the relationship between pterygoid bone medialisation and nasopharyngeal narrowing as well as treatment outcome after upper airway surgery.

It retrospectively assessed 144 BOAS-affected dogs (47 Pugs, 64 French Bulldogs, 33 Bulldogs) and 30 non-brachycephalic controls using patient signalments, pre-operative computed tomographic (CT) images, and the post-operative BOAS index. Measurements on CT images included the width of the basisphenoid (WB), interpterygoid distance (IPB) and cross-sectional area of the nasopharynx (CCSA). All measurements were normalised using body surface area. A ratio of WB to IPB was used to quantify pterygoid bone medialisation. WB:IPB in brachycephalic dogs was significantly higher than in controls (p<0.001), and French bulldogs with poor surgical outcomes had significantly higher WB:IPB than those with good surgical outcomes (p=0.004). This shows that pterygoid bone medialisation limits surgical effectiveness in BOAS-affected French bulldogs.


The roles of ageing and myxomatous mitral valve disease in vascular dysfunction in dogs

Master’s Degree by Research Grant: £38,715 awarded in 2021

Institution: University of Edinburgh

Heart valve disease is very common in older dogs, causing heart failure and a poor quality of life. Vascular dysfunction contributes to human cardiovascular disease, and this is studied using isomeric myography. However, this technique has not previously been used in pet dogs, so this master’s study assessed its feasibility and use in quantifying vascular function in dogs with cardiac disease.

Isomeric myography was performed on femoral, mesenteric, and renal arteries obtained from dogs euthanised for welfare reasons. The technique was feasible and successfully identified loss of endothelial-dependent relaxation which was found to co-exist with myxomatous mitral valve disease in pet dogs.

This work was presented as Feasibility of isometric myography to measure vascular function in pet dogs at the ECVIM-CA Congress 2022, Göteborg.