Vets urged to assist research to help improve prognosis for IMHA cases

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Vets urged to assist research to help improve prognosis for IMHA cases

Animal Health Trust, 75th Anniversary Davies Vet Specialists

UK leading veterinary and scientific research charity, the Animal Health Trust (AHT), is working with other leading veterinary specialist centres (Davies Veterinary Specialists, Dick White Referrals and Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital at University of Cambridge) on an exciting new project to combat immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia (IMHA), calling on you and your cases.

IMHA is a common haematological disease of dogs, which involves destruction of a patient’s red blood cells by their own immune system, leading to the development of anaemia. Treatment involves immunosuppression of the patient to prevent this process. Until immunosuppression is effective, patients can be supported with a range of therapies including blood transfusion to treat the anaemia. Despite the increasing availability of transfusions, mortality for patients with IMHA remains high - reported to be between 30 and 70%.

Despite the wide array of immunosuppressive treatment protocols that have been described for the treatment of IMHA, best practice remains highly controversial. It is typically accepted that corticosteroids are a mainstay of therapy, although evidence supporting this is lacking. Intravenous immunoglobulins are thought to have many potential immunomodulatory effects, and these include inhibition of phagocytosis and inhibition of complement activation, meaning that this treatment may be relatively unique in its ability to accelerate remission in IMHA.

The AHT recently received a generous donation of Pentaglobin, an IgM enriched form of hIVIG, from the family of a human patient hoping to put a surplus stock to good use. A study in new-born humans with haemolytic anaemia (Aqrabawi 2013) found that this drug was effective in rapidly inhibiting further haemolysis in most patients that received it. Currently, Pentaglobin is not a licensed or recognised veterinary treatment but human immunoglobulins have been used in veterinary patients for a number of years with some studies showing promising results. Use of Pentaglobin for this study has been approved by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. Together with Dick White Referrals, Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital at University of Cambridge and Davies Veterinary Specialists, the AHT aims to determine if administration of Pentaglobin at the time of initial diagnosis of IMHA in dogs is beneficial for their outcome.

It is hoped that Pentaglobin will improve survival in dogs with IMHA when given in addition to conventional therapies, will induce more rapid remission and will be associated with a decreased transfusion requirement in dogs with IMHA.

How Can You Help?

As part of this multi-centre study, the collaborators need to test Pentaglobin’s effect on dogs admitted to participating hospitals that have been diagnosed with IMHA. They are asking that any cases diagnosed are highlighted to the most convenient study centre to participate in the research. Participation will be voluntary, with informed owner consent at the time of hospital admission, or once sufficient diagnostics are performed to meet the inclusion criteria. This common condition could be treated more effectively; by putting IMHA cases forward to take part in the study, you will be helping to further knowledge and understanding of treating IMHA, for the benefit of vets and their future patients.

For more information about the study and what to do if you see a case suffering from IMHA, please visit or contact your local study centre.

UPDATE -  Enrolment for this study has finished

Animal Health Trust – Lead Investigators

Mellora Sharman and Mayank Seth

Dick White Referrals

Simon Tappin

Davies Veterinary Specialists

Nat Whitley

Cambridge University

Barbara Skelly and Mike Herrtage

For more detail on the current research, treatment methods and proposed study criteria and format, please contact:

Rebecca Calver, AHT press office
Tel: 01638 751 000 ext. 1572

Photographs & Videos

Images can be requested from the AHT press office.

Additional notes

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is an independent charity, employing over 250 scientists, vets and support workers. It aims to improve the health and welfare of horses, dogs and cats through research. It also provides specialist referral services and continuous education to vets. Visit the website at

UPDATE - Enrolment for this study has finished

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