sealPurdue News

Purdue Science Briefs

May 1996

Purdue veterinary school treadmill gives leg up to horses

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Color photo and b-roll of a horse on the treadmill are available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. Ask for the photo called Treadmill/Couëtil.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A new, high-tech treadmill in Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine gives horses a running start on preventing injuries.

The new treadmill is the most sophisticated, computer-controlled version of its type built to date, says Dr. Laurent Couëtil, visiting instructor of large animal medicine at Purdue.

"Basically, the treadmill allows us to detect lameness and respiratory problems in the equine athlete, and aid us in understanding and preventing athletic injuries to horses." Couëtil says.

The treadmill is the heart of a new Equine Sports Medicine Center in the veterinary school. The purpose of the center is to diagnose, treat and research conditions unique to the athletic horse and to provide a laboratory setting for students in veterinary medicine and veterinary technology, says Dr. Hugh B. Lewis, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine.

What makes the Purdue equine treadmill unique, Couëtil says, is that it can be preprogrammed via computer with a standard exercise routine. That way, the horse's heart rate and respiratory rate can be observed with special sensors at specific speeds and inclines of the treadmill, and the same exercise routine can be repeated if necessary.

"Lameness isn't always detectable at a slow speed," Couëtil says. "We can videotape the horse while it's on the treadmill at a fast clip, then play the tape back slowly to detect any lameness."

The treadmill is designed for use by both thoroughbred and standardbred race horses and any pleasure horse, Couëtil says. CONTACT: Laurent Couëtil, (765) 494-8548; Internet,

Device offers help to patients with liver failure

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A first-of-its-kind liver dialysis machine has received FDA approval, and will be available to U.S. patients this spring.

The BioLogic-DT dialysis system, developed by HemoCleanse Inc. of West Lafayette, pulls toxins from blood using activated charcoal and charged atoms. The device, which originated at Purdue, was approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in comatose patients with acute hepatic failure.

"The dialysis system has been proven successful in treating patients with liver failure or drug overdose," says Dr. Stephen R. Ash, a Lafayette physician and associate professor of comparative medicine at Purdue. "For patients with acute liver failure, the device is especially effective if they are caught during the early stages of coma, which is generally one of the first complications to develop."

Ash began working on the device in 1975 at Purdue's Biomedical Engineering Center. As co-founder and chairman of HemoCleanse Inc., located in Purdue's Research Park, he has helped carry the new technology from the laboratory to the market.

The system is being used in six countries to treat patients with liver failure and drug overdose.

Ash and his research group at HemoCleanse have produced a similar device, called the BioLogic-HT, that heats patients' blood to destroy bacteria and viruses. The BioLogic-HT is being used as an experimental treatment for patients with AIDS. CONTACT: Dr. Stephen Ash, (765) 463-9540.

Purdue students help consumers pick the right products

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Students in a Purdue University industrial engineering course publish an on-line newsletter that rates consumer products based on "human factors," or usability.

Unlike publications such as Consumer Reports, which focus on the quality of products, the Purdue newsletter, "Product GrA+des," rates a product on factors such as how long it takes to learn to use it and how easy it is to use. After modeling, testing and analyzing, students give different brands of the product a grade, A through F, on each factor.

The project began in 1994 as a printed newsletter, with each new class evaluating a different product each semester. The ratings for four products -- VCRs, telephone answering machines, electronic organizers and calculators -- are available on the Internet on the class's World Wide Web site at

Students now are analyzing human treadmills, and the results should be posted by May.

Most consumer magazine analyses assume that one product, judged to be of highest quality, is best for everyone, says class instructor Ray Eberts, associate professor of industrial engineering. An embedded computer program allows visitors to the home page to ask simple questions about their usability needs. The program then determines which brand is best for that individual.

"For example, if you say that the most important features to you on a VCR are the amount of time it takes to program and how easy it is to set the clock, Product GrA+des will recommend the best brand for you," Eberts says. CONTACT: Eberts, (765) 494-5429; Internet,

Prof's book charts people and animals through history

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A black-and-white drawing of a man holding a sick porpoise is available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. Ask for the drawing called Animal Book/Williams.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University faculty member's new book, "Veterinary Medicine, An Illustrated History," is really a history of the interaction between people and animals.

"I feel it could be argued that the history of humankind is closely linked to the history of man's fascination and interaction with animals," Professor David J. Williams says of the 704-page volume. "The book traces the domestication of animals, the first record of animal doctors in ancient Mesopotamia and the development of veterinary medicine up to the present day."

Williams is director of medical illustration and communications in Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine. The 9-1/4-inch by 12-1/4-inch book, with 529 illustrations, was published by Mosby-Year Book Inc., a medical publisher based in St. Louis. The work is the first of its kind in English. It was one of two finalists for the Literary Market Place Award in scholarly publishing.

Williams is co-author with Dr. Robert H. Dunlop, professor of veterinary public health and director of graduate studies in veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota. Dunlop is an authority on the history of veterinary medicine.

To order "Veterinary Medicine: An Illustrated History," at $79.95, call (800) 426-4545. The book also is available at most bookstores. CONTACT: David Williams, (765) 494-1156; Internet,

New test kit adds 'green' value to soybeans

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A color photo of Rick Vierling using the peroxidase test kit is available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. Ask for the photo called Soy Enzyme/Vierling.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Soybeans now can fight on the front lines in the battle to clean the environment.

Scientists at Purdue University have developed a new, easy-to-use test kit for peroxidase, an enzyme from soybean hulls. That paves the way for peroxidase to replace the potential carcinogen formaldehyde in glues and varnishes and to treat industrial and municipal waste water.

The test kit was developed by Rick Vierling, an assistant professor of agronomy at Purdue and director of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association Genetics Lab. It could be used by breeders to test the soybean lines they are developing, by farmers to test the peroxidase levels of beans in the field, by grain dealers to test beans brought for them to buy, and by industry personnel who want to test peroxidase activity in factory processes.

Peroxidase from soybeans is a new, but fast-growing, presence in industrial chemistry. The word "peroxidase" describes a class of oxidative enzymes found in plants, milk and white blood cells. It can reduce environmental contamination caused by manufacturing processes, and it's gaining an industrial following.

The baking industry in Europe has started using soybean peroxidase instead of potassium bromate in bread-making and dough conditioning, and a U.S. company is finalizing agreements to use it for labeling antibodies in medical and research diagnostics. Bioremediation companies also are considering peroxidase for industrial waste water treatment, while other companies are investigating its use in manufacturing computer chips, adhesives, car parts, varnishes and linings of drums and cans. CONTACT: Rick Vierling, (765) 474-3494; Internet,


Compiled by: Susan Gaidos, (765) 494-2081; Internet,

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page