Promising New Therapy for Joint Problems

APS is made from the horse's blood.
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APS is made from the horse's blood.

From Ohio State University and two private practices comes an interesting article on a treatment for osteoarthritis in horses.

Researchers constantly look for the best therapy to counter the stress we place on a horse's front legs.

Researchers constantly look for the best therapy to counter the stress we place on a horse's front legs.

As reported in the February 2014 issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research under head author Alicia Bertone, DVM, PhD, 40 horses with bony arthritis were treated with a new intra-articular joint injection therapy.

The horses in the study were divided into two groups. One group received an injection of saline into the joint. The other half received APS. APS is autologous protein solution made from the horse’s blood. A blood sample is drawn and then processed to concentrate plasma, white blood cell proteins and platelet growth factors. The horses were evaluated for their lameness and gait via a treadmill, joint circumference measurements and range of motion exam. A full lameness exam and analysis with stationary force plates added more information. This was done for two weeks.

At the end of the two weeks, the control horses were also given APS. The owners of all the horses did follow-up at 12 and 52 weeks.

There were no problems or complications noted with the APS therapy. Results in the individual horses depended partly on how severe the arthritis was to begin with, but overall, the horses who received the APS initially did better. In addition, the good results appeared to hold up over time.

Bottom Line: More studies need to be done to fully explore this treatment but the take home message for owners of horses with bony arthritis is that there may be another effective and safe therapy in the toolbox of your veterinarian. The equipment to process the APS will need to be commercially available, but I suspect laboratories will be looking into it or human laboratories may be willing to run it as well.

Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, Horse Journal Contributing Veterinary Editor