FROM : EQUINE DISEASE QUARTERLY College of Agriculture , Food and Environment Department of Veterinary Science
JANUARY 2017 Volume 26 , Number 1
Accelerating Medical Progress on Equine Lameness
In the horse world , lameness is a major problem . On this point , everyone agrees . Whether your focus is elite equine athletes or pleasure horses , whether you are a professional or a recreational rider , whether your primary breed of interest is large or small , musculoskeletal injuries are common and potentially very serious . Substantial progress has been made over the last several decades in areas of both lameness diagnosis and treatment . Importantly , the future holds as much promise as ever .
Science and technology are continuing to drive advances in clinical disciplines . Cell biology is a good example . With next generation sequencing applied on a genomic scale ( inclusive of all DNA or all RNA ), it is now possible to broadly compare gene expression between individual tissues and cell types . Datadriven scientific approaches are discovering a large number of genes that nobody realized were important . The results are providing new insights into cellular identity , normal function , and disease mechanisms in areas that have direct relevance to lameness . New understanding about individual cell types enables diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to be refined . Consider cartilage as an example . Our bodies contain several different cartilaginous tissues — joint ( articular ) cartilage , non-articular structural cartilage , cartilage that is replaced by bone through a process called endochondral ossification , and others . Although all types of cartilage have features in common , an understanding of the unique cellular characteristics that define articular chondrocytes is clearly an important parameter to consider with joint diseases . Going forward , veterinarians will increasingly have access to molecular biomarker panels to help refine their list of differential diagnoses , to select optimal therapies , and for patient monitoring .
We already hear about these approaches with cancer patients , and the same concepts are applicable for bone , cartilage , tendon , ligament , and muscle tissues . The clinical goals include improved sensitivity in monitoring health as well as early identification of disease problems and how the patient is responding to treatment . On a therapeutic level , cell-based approaches are generating high levels of interest and for good reasons . The term “ stem cells ” is mentioned frequently . Cells can be used therapeutically to deliver beneficial equine-specific growth and differentiation factors to an area of injury , to modulate the patient ’ s immune system in helpful ways , and in some cases to directly generate a repair tissue . There is much to