This summer I worked in Dr. Carlos Gradil’s Equine Intrauterine Device (IUD) Lab. The IUDs used in this lab are novel devices called iUPODs which consist of three cylindrical plastic-coated magnets. This ergonomic design allows for ease of insertion, removal, and limits potential uterine damage. The project I helped with focused on using copper-banded iUPODs to treat antimicrobial resistant (AMR) uterine infections in mares, and consisted of both clinical work at the UMass Hadley Farm and laboratory work on the UMass campus. For the duration of the project, I went out to the Hadley Farm twice a week to assist with reproductive ultrasounds and draw blood from the seven mares used in this study. I also worked in a microbiology lab to grow bacterial cultures from uterine swabs, perform Gram stains, and to prepare glycerol stock solutions and bacterial inoculums.
While this was a set 90-day preliminary study, the data collected suggested that copper iUPODs could serve as an alternative to antibiotics when treating AMR uterine infections in mares. With the continuous rise in antimicrobial resistance and urgent need for alternatives to antimicrobial drugs, these were promising results. Additional potential uses for iUPODs include controlling feral horse and wildlife populations as well as providing a safer form of IUD for women