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News Article

Gene therapy for severe tendon and ligament injuries in horses


Direct gene therapy restored injuries of the suspensory ligament branch and superficial digital flexor tendon in dressage horses.

Researchers report in Frontiers in Veterinary Science that they have used gene therapy to successfully treat tendinitis and desmitis in horses. Gene therapy was used in two dressage horses that had gone lame due to injury and within two to three weeks the horses were able to walk and trot. Within just two months they were back to full health, galloping and competing.

The findings are the result of a partnership between the Kazan Federal University and Moscow State Academy of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology and the University of Nottingham.

Dr Catrin Rutland, Assistant Professor of Anatomy and Developmental Genetics, led the work at the University of Nottingham.

She said: “This pioneering study advances not only equine medicine but has real implications for how other species and humans are treated for lameness and other disorders in the future. The horses returned to full health after their injuries and did not have any adverse side effects. This is a very exciting medical innovation.”

The researchers used plasmid DNA containing species-specific vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) 164 and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) genes. VEGF164 is a member of a large VEGF proteins family, which promotes proliferation and migration of endothelial cells. FGF2 is a dominant protein of the FGF family; this factor shows a broad spectrum of mitogenic and angiogenic activity and is a neurotrophic factor.

The researchers acknowledge that there are still a great number of challenges to be solved before gene therapy will be widely used in clinical practice of veterinary medicine, but they say this study makes advances in the use of these therapies. “Since these preliminary case reports demonstrated improvement in clinical outcome and no adverse side effects, larger clinical trial is ongoing to further study efficiency of direct gene therapy for the treatment of horse tendinitis and desmitis,” they say.

Read article: Gene Therapy Using Plasmid DNA Encoding Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor 164 and Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 Genes for the Treatment of Horse Tendinitis and Desmitis: Case Reports by Milomir Kovac, Yaroslav A. Litvin, Ruslan O. Aliev, Elena Yu Zakirova, Catrin S. Rutland, Andrey P. Kiyasov and Albert A. Rizvanov, published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, online 10 October 2017, doi: 10.3389/fvets.2017.00168

Article details

  • Date
  • 19 October 2017
  • Source
  • University of Nottingham
  • Subject(s)
  • Horses and other Equines