Hydrogel injection shows promise in treating equine osteoarthritis


gallop-legs-endurance_2546A single injection of a hydrogel compound into the joints of horses and goats can relieve osteoarthritis, researchers have found.

The new treatment for osteoarthritis in horses has been shown to be more effective and last longer than other medical treatments for osteoarthritis.

The treatment consists of an injection into the affected joint of a polyacrylamide hydrogel (PAAG).

The findings of associate professor Aziz Tnibar’s research group at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have been published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Journal.

Tnibar and his colleagues have evaluated the effects of treatment with PAAG on osteoarthritis in three studies since 2010.

“It is a breakthrough therapy, which is highly promising with respect to the products that are otherwise available to the treatment of osteoarthritis,” he said. “We are very enthusiastic.”

Aziz Tnibar
Aziz Tnibar

The researchers have conducted two clinical trials on horses and an experimental study in goats. They have shown that the hydrogel significantly alleviated lameness and effusion in joints affected by osteoarthritis.

The effect occurred for most of the injected horses in the first few months of treatment. Subsequently, the effect slightly increased up to six months, where it stabilized.

After two years of treatment, 82.5 percent of the PAAG-treated horses no longer limped.

One of the studies compared treatment with PAAG with treatment with the traditional treatments, triamcinolone and hyaluronic acid. PAAG treatment was shown to be significantly better than the conventional treatment.

After six months, 75 percent of the horses treated with PAAG stopped limping. In comparison, 35 percent of the horses given the traditional treatment had stopped limping.

A similar result was found in a randomized, controlled pilot study of goats with osteoarthritis. In this study, 75 percent of the goats treated with PAAG had stopped limping four months after treatment. None of the three studies reported any adverse reactions to treatment.

“Our studies have demonstrated that PAAG is a highly promising new treatment for clinical osteoarthritis in horses,” Tnibar said.

“We believe that there is the potential that this technology could be used in the future to treat osteoarthritis in humans.”

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease and one of the most frequent causes of physical impairment in humans.

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