Interluekin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP) therapy is a branch of regenerative medicine used to treat the effects of degenerative joint disease in horses. For years, trainers and owners have battled the effects of arthritis in their horse’s joints. In the past, treatments have only been able to alleviate the symptoms of the disease, effectively reducing the inflammation and pain in the joint. IRAP therapy, however, treats more than just the symptoms. It stimulates a regenerative response by the cartilage cells, which helps to restore the joint lining and cartilage function.
Genetic malformation, irregular growth patterns, loose joints, joint stress or injury can all contribute to degenerative joint disease. The resulting inflammation in the joint produces the enzyme Interluekin-1. This enzyme serves an important function in the immune response to inflammation and infection, however left unchecked it can result in significant damage to the cartilage. IRAP therapy works to block the attachment of the Interluekin-1 molecules to healthy cells and works as a natural inhibitor to the pro-inflammatory effect of Interluekin 1.
The Interluekin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP) is naturally produced in the blood. IRAP therapy involves the collection of the horse’s blood, stimulating the growth of the antagonist protein in this blood, isolating the protein rich serum and then injecting it into the affected joint.
Collecting & Incubating:
Blood is drawn from the horse’s jugular vein into a tube that contains glass beads. These glass beads are used to stimulate the growth of the antagonist protein. Growth is achieved by incubating the tube over a 24-hour period so that the blood becomes rich with the antagonist protein.
After the blood has finished incubating, it is placed in a centrifuge. The blood is spun for 10 minutes at 4000 Gs. This separates the protein rich serum from the blood. The serum is then extracted from the tube with a syringe and pushed through a filter into a smaller dosage syringe.
Each blood collection can yield between 4-6 doses. The size of the dose will depend on the joint that is being treated. The doses that are not used can be stored for future use.
A horse will go through a series of four treatments, each a week apart. The treatments consist of injecting the protein rich serum into the affect joint. Because there is no special equipment needed, patients are not required to visit the hospital for treatments. They can be administered on the farm.
Patients may start to see results after the first treatment, but the most dramatic results will be seen after the third and fourth treatments.
Mid-Rivers Equine Centre is successfully treating horses with IRAP therapy when other treatments are no longer effective. Client Karla Scott said the treatment “was like a miracle” for her mare Bailey (Bailey’s Story: Orphan Foal Triumphs: Meet Bailey). Sport and racehorses practitioners are using this therapy and are seeing dramatic results.
If you have questions about IRAP therapy or would like to have your horse evaluated for the treatment please contact the clinic at 636.332.5373. We will be happy to assist you.