IRAP and Osteoarthritis
Within our armoury of therapies to treat osteoarthritis is IRAP (Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein). Osteoarthritis is a common cause of lameness in horses which is characterised by joint inflammation. This inflammation causes swelling, pain and further degeneration of the joint.
Inflammation is a normal protective response to trauma but in this case it leads to a vicious cycle of joint damage. IRAP is used to break this cycle.
Where does IRAP come from?
IRAP is cultured from the horse's own blood. It is then processed and frozen so that it can be injected into the affected joint in stages.
Normally IRAP is administered as a course of 3 injections with a gap of 1 to 2 weeks between each.
What is involved in IRAP treatment?
The process starts with a sterile collection of blood from the horse into a special syringe containing coated glass beads. It is then incubated for 24 hours which allows the horse's white blood cells to produce the IRAP. We then centrifuge the blood and divide the now IRAP-rich serum into the required number of doses. This is frozen until needed and can be stored for up to a year.
The effect of IRAP increases over the course of treatment. Our experience and that of others tends to show a slower initial effect than "traditional" steroid medication, with improvements becoming more obvious towards the end of the treatment.
Additionally, the treatment is often longer lasting and does not have the associated risks or side effects that can come with steroid medication.