Regenerative Medicine Options: IRAP, PRP and Stem Cells
When equine athletes suffer from trauma to the joint (as occurs with osteoarthritis) inflammatory mediators such as Interluekin-1 (IL-1) are released. These mediators (also called cytokines) can then lead to further cartilage damage leading to further inflammation and consequently further joint damage. IRAP was developed to break this cycle by inhibiting IL-1 within the damaged joint. The IL-1 receptor sites are blocked and the progressive arthritic process is ideally slowed and pain associated with the process is better controlled.
IRAP is also known as autologous conditioned serum, as is processed from blood drawn from your horse. The blood is incubated overnight in order to stimulate production of the antagonist protein, then the protein is separated out into several doses which can be injected into the affected joint every 7-14 days, or frozen and stored for later use. Several doses are usually obtained from each harvesting.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelet Rich Plasma is another product harvested from your horse’s blood and re—injected. Platelets are enormously beneficial in healing processes of damaged soft tissue structures (tendons and ligaments) and can both accelerate healing and lead to an overall better healed structure. Platelets increase the accessibility of healthy inflammatory factors to injured regions and increase the formation of new blood vessels. This has become a great therapeutic option for horses who have sustained soft tissue (tendon or ligament) injuries.
PRP harvesting and injecting can be done in the field or the hospital as an outpatient service.
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the possibility of differentiating into different types of tissue including tendon, ligament, cartilage, muscle and bone. While there are several types of stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells (or those derived from bone marrow, fat and umbilical cord blood/tissue) are the most common type used for equine regenerative medicine.