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IRAP Therapy

Arthritis, inflammation of a joint, is a condition we see quite often in performance horses. There is a wide array of treatment strategies and medications that we use to treat equine arthritis. Here, we would like to discuss a relatively new procedure with which we have seen good results. It is called Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein therapy, or IRAP for short. Interleukin-1 is an inflammatory protein that is produced in inflamed joints and can cause damage to the joint over time. IRAP therapy is designed to block the action of Interleukin-1 by not allowing it to bind to its necessary receptors. Confused? Try this analogy. Think of Interleukin-1 as a key that unlocks a door which opens and allows damage to occur in the joint. The keyhole is the Interleukin-1 receptor. When injected into the joint, IRAP acts like a "dummy key." It fits the keyhole, but can't unlock the door. Furthermore, the "dummy key" prevents the real key (Interleukin-1) from getting into the keyhole and unlocking the door. Therefore, the door remains locked and shut, so inflammatory joint damage does not occur.

The IRAP procedure involves collecting about 50-60 ml of the horse's blood and having it processed to extract the therapeutic proteins. The final product is then frozen and stored in individual syringes, ready to be thawed and aseptically injected into the diseased joint. We are typically able to get 5 to 6 doses per collection, and we usually inject the joint with the IRAP once per week. If you are interested in using IRAP therapy on any of your horses or have any questions, feel free to contact us.