Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein (IRAP) therapy has been used at REC for horses with joint disease for several years now. Interleukin-1 (IL-1) is one of the most destructive chemicals produced in joint inflammation and leads to ongoing cartilage damage. Its antagonist protein is produced naturally by the body and can block IL-1, but in an inflamed joint IL-1 is present in much higher concentrations than the antagonist can block.
IRAP therapy involves taking a small amount of blood from the horse and incubating it to allow the horse’s white cells to produce increased amounts of IRAP. The sample is then spun down in a centrifuge to allow harvesting of the IRAP rich fluid portion which can then be injected directly into the affected joints to hopefully block IL-1, reduce inflammation and potentially allow cartilage regeneration. As the serum is autologous (i.e. from the horse'sown blood), it carries minimal risk of an adverse reaction. Each blood collection typically yields around 6 joint treatments and the extra doses are stored frozen for use later. See article below for more details.