New Therapy May Help Horses With Joint Infections

Scientists at North Carolina State University have developed a new therapy that may combat persistent joint infections. The therapy uses a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and antibiotics to eliminate bacterial biofilms that are common in joint infections. Biofilms are a slimy shield that form around bacteria in synovial fluid; these shields can become so large that the immune cells can’t attack and eliminate them. Biofilms also cause the bacteria to become metabolically inactive, which makes them more resistant to bacteria.

Currently, treatment of joint infections generally involves flushing the joint and administering antibiotics. Even when joint infections are treated aggressively, 6 to 10 percent of horses will die from the infection or because of a complication associated with the infection. Of the horses that survive, 50 percent will suffer from chronic arthritis.

Drs. Jessica Gilbertie, Thomas Schaer, Alicia Schubert, Megan Jacob, Stefano Menegatti, Ashton Lavoie and Lauren Schnabel created a study to test their combination theory that was backed by the Morris Animal Foundation. The research team took blood from a small herd of horses and isolated the platelets, then packed 50 times the number of platelets typically found in an equal amount of blood into the product. The platelets were then lysed to release antimicrobial peptides, combining them to create one lysate product.

The scientists collected synovial fluid from the knee of each horse and put bacteria in the fluid, and allowed it to grow a biofilm in the lab. When testing the samples, the researchers found that antibiotics alone were completely ineffective in decreasing the bacterial load. Lysate alone significantly reduced the bacterial load, but lysate and antibiotics together completely eradicated the biofilms and the bacteria. The team is now trying to create the lysate more cost effectively.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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