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New Arthritis Treatment for HorsesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · January 13, 2012

The pain and inflammation of arthritis can be treated with phenylbutazone, cortisone, herbal preparations, heat, cold, shock-wave therapy, and numerous other options. No treatment is completely effective in all cases, so the search for novel drugs and therapies is ongoing. A recently developed arthritis treatment is the use of blood-derived autologous conditioned serum (ACS).

To begin this treatment, a veterinarian collects some of the horse’s own blood which is then sent to a laboratory where two substances are isolated. Interleukin-1, a protein derived from white blood cells, plays a role in producing inflammation at sites of injury or tissue damage. White blood cells also generate a receptor antagonist protein that acts to block the inflammatory chemical events triggered by interleukin-1 (IRAP). The principle behind ACS therapy is to use the two proteins to balance each other, limiting arthritic inflammation. An extract containing the receptor antagonist protein can be injected into an affected joint to reduce pain, decrease irritation, and protect cartilage.

Because this treatment uses material that originated in the horse’s own body, it does not cause a reaction. It is drug-free and therefore is not regulated or banned by any breed or organization.