Early Stage Equine Osteoarthritis: Vets Consider 2.5percent Polyacrylamide Gel Treatment

POSTED ON  |  08-01-2020

In a “new uses for old things” twist, an equine veterinarian in Qatar has reported that a 2.5% hydrogel originally designed as a cosmetic filler can help horses with early stage to chronic osteoarthritis (OA) and could even one day be used to help prevent joint damage. Florent David, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS & ECVS, Dipl. ACVSMR, ECVDI Assoc., specialist in Surgery, Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Diagnostic Imaging at the Equine Veterinary Medical Center, in Doha, described what he found in published research on the product at the 2019 Northeast Association of Equine Practitioners Symposium, held Sept. 25-27 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

David began by explaining that there are two polyacrylamide gels designed for horses—Noltrex Vet (4%) and Arthramid Vet (2.5%). He said he has been involved with clinical research on both and hasn’t received renumeration or benefits from either company. More recently he’s conducted research on Arthramid Vet, which he focused on primarily in the current research review. At the time of this presentation, scientists had not compared the two drugs directly but had completed and published individual research studies in peer-reviewed journals. Doctors use a variety of hydrogels for cosmetology, and “they’re actually very different,” David said. “Polyacrylamide hydrogels are not all the same, and we should be aware of that.”

He said researchers in Denmark have reported the 2.5% gel is nontoxic, biocompatible, and stable with great tissue integration in joints from various species, including horses. “It’s a gel, produced by a patented technology, that’s basically made of a 3D network of cross-linked polyacrylamide polymers. During the manufacturing process water molecules are forced between the polyacrylamide chains, generating a porous biomaterial with great molecular stability and ability to maintain its viscoelastic properties in situ. The lightly bound water molecules in the gel can easily interchange with water from the surrounding tissue.”

The product is approved for use in New Zealand, he explained, and it’s awaiting approval for use in many other countries. David said scientists speculate that the gel works by improving the joint capsule elasticity lost during the osteoarthritic process. The gel might also protect the joint surfaces from exposure to cytokines, which are inflammatory molecules the immune system produces.

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