The research, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research, involved treatment of experimentally induced defects in the third third metacarpal bones (MC3s) of six thoroughbreds.
The horses were anaesthetised and a 4.5mm diameter hole was drilled into the medial condyle of both MC3s of each horse.
One millilitre of a solution of gelatin hydrogel microspheres (2mg) containing the growth factor was injected into the joint capsule of the right metacarpophalangeal joint of each horse. One millilitre of saline solution was injected into the left joint, which were used as controls for the study.
Radiography was performed one day and 4, 8, 12, and 16 weeks after surgery to evaluate bone-defect refilling.
Sixteen weeks after surgery, multidetector-row computed tomography was used to determine the degree of refilling at the bone defect site.
The radiography revealed healing of bone defects at 4 to 12 weeks after surgery in joints treated with the growth factor and at 8 to 16 weeks after surgery in the control joints.
In addition, the scanning showed better healing in the growth factor joints when compared to the control joints.
"This treatment strategy may be useful for treating horses with fractures," wrote the researchers, from the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Hokkaido.