Today’s wealth of scientific advancements can make it difficult to keep track of all the different treatment options available for injured horses. A flexor tendon injury, for example, that once had a relatively standard treatment protocol can now be aided by traditional methods as well as relatively new therapies such as stem cell, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), or IRAP (interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein). During a presentation at the 2011 North American Veterinary Regenerative Medicine Conference held June 2-4 in Lexington, Ky., Jamie Textor, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, an equine surgeon and PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis, explained the different treatment options in the regenerative medicine field.

The Basics

First, Textor explained that regenerative medicine’s goal is to aid in healing tissue (such as tendon, ligament, and bone) in an organized manner–specifically, to preserve all function (such as elasticity and range of motion), approximate what the original tissue was like in strength and resilience, and to help the tissue heal with no scar.

She explained that when tissue heals in an unorganized way, the cells that make up the matter have little to no stretching ability. This means the new tissue is not as strong or resilient as the original tissue, leaving the door open for reinjury.

So what do veterinarians need to aid the tissue healing process? According to Textor, several things:

  • "Seeds," or cells, that are specific to repairing the tissue that’s been damaged. The body’s first responders (fibroblasts) are generic cells that try to fix everyth