Joint damage and lameness is one of the biggest reasons for loss of performance and subsequent retirement in the equine athlete. Unfortunately the signs of osteo-arthritis can present in young horses and older horses. For many years now we have had the same products available for the treatment of joint disease. However, in recent years there has been a vast amount of research performed on the pathology of equine joint disease.
Joint disease/ osteoarthritis is characterized by inflammation within the joint that leads to an inflammatory cascade with the production of a large amount of inflammatory enzymes that can cause further damage. Often the process of joint disease is characterized by inflammation of the joint capsule followed by progressive destruction of the articular cartilage. These pro-inflammatory enzymes actually delay the bodies own natural healing response.
There are a number of therapies used to treat the early stages of osteoarthritis, these include: ice therapy, oral bute, Pentosan injections, Hyaluronic acid injections and intra-articular corticosteroids. These therapies have been used with success in the management of equine joint disease. In some cases though these therapies do not have the desired response and effect and your horse may not return to normal athletic function.
IRAP is a new system that has been developed to stimulate white blood cells to produce anti-inflammatory mediators and enzymes to reduce the inflammatory phase of joint disease. Blood is taken from the jugular vein and incubated for 24 hours in special syringes that contain glass beads which induce the white blood cells to produce and secrete therapeutic proteins during the incubation period. After 24 hours the blood is centrifuged and all red blood cells removed. This leaves a protein rich serum which is then split into 3ml doses ready for injection into the diseased joint. Typically each collection produces enough serum for between 6-7 injections. It is important to note that the injections are only suitable to treat the horse from which the original blood was collected.
The finished product contains proteins called cytokines that act to reduce the inflammation within the joint and stimulate a regenerative response by the cartilage cells, through a process of cell division and increased cell recruitment. There are a number of other anti-inflammatory proteins produced during the incubation process which work synergistically with the cytokines. This therapy is different from other treatments available as the therapy has an anti-inflammatory component which other products have and a regenerative response unseen in other therapies. This regenerative response is a new addition to our therapeutic ability to manage joint disease.
What does the treatment involve? The therapy consists of a series of joint injections at 7 day intervals. Most positive effects are seen after the second and the third treatment. Each sample can be frozen to allow its use later. If blood is harvested from your horse, after the initial incubation period, the cytokine rich protein serum can be maintained by freezing the samples, and used later if required.
What cases warrant the use of IRAP? The cases that generally respond the best are those that have mild to moderate degenerative joint disease visible on radiographs, and all lameness is abolished by the use of intra-articular anesthesia. Joints which have fragments of bone visible on the radiographs are not suitable patients for this therapy. IRAP treatment is also warranted after arthroscopy has been performed to remove a chip fragment. In these cases the anti-inflammatory cytokines and proteins will reduce inflammation within the joint and encourage a regeneration response of damaged cartilage.
Why use IRAP? This product is 100% body own with the process stimulating the body’s cells to produce an increased number of the cytokines and associated proteins. IRAP is different from other products as it treats the cause of joint disease and the site of action is aimed at restoring joint lining and cartilage function. Studies performed in Colorado State University show that treated horses have reduced lameness, improved joint histology (cellular make up) and a tendency for cartilage preservation. Observation of recently treated horses has revealed an improvement in joint appearance and reduction in lameness.
Kensington Banks Equine Services are proud to be able to offer this new therapy. This therapy heralds the new generation of treatment options available to manage equine joint disease. To discuss this further please feel free to contact us on 03 9573 3730 or email: email@example.com
Michael A Tweedie
M.A., VetMB, MRCVS
Kensington Banks Equine Services
Po Box 199
Tel: 03 9573 3730
Fax: 03 9573 3731
Mobile: 0434 318 471
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