The Hospital for Large Animals Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts offers Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP) therapy for horses. IRAP therapy is recommended for horses suffering from mild to moderate osteoarthritis, capsulitis/synovitis, osteochondritis dessecans (OCD) lesions and following arthroscopic surgery.
IRAP is an alternative to the use of corticosteroids within an affected joint. It works by blocking interleukin-1, which is the major cytokine involved in the destruction of articular cartilage during the degenerative processes of osteoarthritis—one of the leading causes of lameness and loss of use in equine athletes. In-vitro and early clinical studies using IRAP show a decrease in the amount of joint inflammation and cartilage destruction seen in osteoarthritis.
Since IRAP is a naturally occurring protein within the horse's own bloodstream, immune reactions to the treatment are rare. Levels of IRAP and other anti-inflammatory proteins in the blood can be enhanced for injection into a joint by incubating a small sample of blood from the patient.
Here's how it works: A syringe with a horse's blood sample is incubated for 24 hours, then the sample is spun and the serum collected. Each syringe typically yields five to six doses of IRAP, dependent of the specific joint used for collection. The number of treatments can vary and the team at the Hospital for Large Animals discuss these options with the client as treatment progresses.