Diagnostic test for epilepsy in Arabian horses

Polani Sagi, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Koret School of Veterinary Medicine
Kahila Bar-Gal Gila, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Koret School of Veterinary Medicine

 An accurate DNA test for identifying potential carriers of Juvenile Idiopathic Epilepsy in Arabian Horses



Arabian horses, Arab horses, horse breeding, blood horse, horse sperm, equine semen, artificial insemination in horses, horse testing, equine industry, equine testing, equine genetic testing services, horse DNA testing, horse genetic testing, horse veterinary genetics lab, genetic disorders in horses, idiopathic epilepsy in horses, Juvenile Idiopathic Epilepsy (JIE), Juvenile Epilepsy Syndrome (JES), veterinary neurology, horse seizures, horse-breed registry, studbook, Arabian Horse Association (AHA), U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF),

Development Stage

Clinical proof of concept and initial results


Our Innovation

Our innovation comprises a simple, low-cost test, both for female and male horses of any age, detecting Juvenile Idiopathic Epilepsy (JIE) - a genetic disease exclusive to Arabian horses. Accurate results are provided within several days. If a carrier is identified, owners can outbreed the horse to minimize the chance of the defective gene appearing in successive generations, sparing pain and suffering of off-springs. In addition, horse breeders can avoid the risk of purchasing a horse or semen bearing the inherited disorder, saving considerable cultivation and breeding expenses.


The onset of the disorder is commonly from birth to 6 months, and the symptoms often recede by 1-2 years of age - when the foal becomes fertile. Nevertheless, the foal continues to pass on the defective gene. Physiological symptoms include seizures of varying intensities, causing severe secondary injuries, temporary loss of consciousness, disorientation, intermittent blindness, and secondary aspiration pneumonia. Convulsions are commonly controlled by administering phenobarbital for several months.


The Arabian horse industry involves sizable amounts of money, whereby horses are bred to compete in endurance racing and horse shows, as well as for prestige and leisure, or as pets. There is an increasing demand in this industry for genetic testing – now a mandatory requirement for registering horses in the U.S. Arabian Horse Association (AHA) studbook.





The test kit, containing several test tubes and reagents, utilizes real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology - a platform that enables quick and accurate detection of the specific genetic markers of the disease. A blood or hair sample are taken from either a female or male horse, in order to extract and test its DNA. A short, simple procedure is implemented to detect the genetic markers, and test results are available within a few days.



  • Low-cost, accurate and fast diagnostic tool
  • Spares breeders purchasing and cultivation expenses
  • Minimizes suffering of horses
  • Tool for advancing genetic research
  • Enables the gradual outbreeding of potential carriers

Development milestones

After having conducted extensive research on the Arabian horse population in Israel, we found a high correlation between two genetic markers in the horse’s genome and the incidence of the disorder.  

Another research project on Arabian horses which is currently underway – soon to be published by the Hebrew University - will enable the detection of a horse’s breed purity, as well as screening for additional genetic diseases with known genetic predispositions.



  • Purchase the technology license
  • Use the diagnostic lab service
  • Testing by veterinarian clinics
  • Testing provided to horse owners, buyers and breeders  

Researcher information:  Sagi Polani , Prof. Gila Kahila Bar-Gal 




Contact for more information:

Amichai Baron
VP, Head of Business Development, Agritech & Envir