Researchers at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine are in the midst of testing a novel, cutting-edge sarcoid treatment.

The new treatment is called H-FIRE, which stands for high-frequency irreversible electroporation. It involves a long needle that delivers a short burst of electricity into specific places in the tumor. The team is testing the treatment on Paco, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred/Percheron cross.

"Sarcoids are locally invasive skin tumors that we deal with often in equine medicine," said J. Michael Cissell, DVM, MS, clinical assistant professor of large animal surgery and the veterinarian leading the treatment. “Due to sarcoids’ invasiveness, simple removal is not always effective even when we remove wide margins of tissue that may be involved."

The researchers and veterinarians studying the treatment have found that H-FIRE appears effective at controlling the tumor’s growth.

"Paco is the first sarcoid patient we have treated using the H-FIRE system,” Cissell said. "We’re still assessing the actual effect of H-FIRE on these tumors but it may be that it helps to decrease the periphery of the lesion making removal more successful."

In all, seven horses have been clinical trial patients for H-FIRE for various types of tumors. Paco is a veteran having had the treatment a dozen times for lesions along his right jaw.

Although sarcoids just invade skin, they very often recur, can become worse with treatment, and can appear in other are