Research

 

A vital trait of living organisms is their capacity for self-repair. Whether an injury is surgical or accidental it will generate an attempt, by the host, to restore tissue continuity. Two processes are involved in healing: repair and regeneration. Repair is a “stop-gap” reaction designed to reestablish the continuity of interrupted tissues with undifferentiated scar tissue. Regeneration entails the replacement of damaged tissue with cells of the type lost and is possible only in tissues with a sustained population of cells capable of mitosis. 

 

 

 

Wound Healing in the Horse / Fibrosis and Scarring

Horses respond to danger with a fight-or-flight instinct, predisposing them to massive skin wounds. Whereas even extensive wounds of the head and trunk usually heal uneventfully, horses display a debilitating impediment to repair of wounds of the extremities. Specifically, they suffer from chronic non-healing wounds similar to venous leg ulcers of man or, conversely, from the development of exuberant granulation tissue (EGT) which, in some ways, resembles the human keloid.

 

Read more: Wound Healing in the Horse / Fibrosis and Scarring 

New Treatment Modalities

Skin wounds are an everyday condition seen by the equine practitioner and they exert a significant financial impact on the equine industry. A large study by the National Animal Health Monitoring System found that injuries are the most common medical condition affecting horses : of the horses studied, 4.7% suffered a wound compared with 2.8% with musculoskeletal disorder leading to lameness, 1.9% with gastrointestinal disorder leading to colic, and 1.9% with respiratory problems. In horses less than 6 months of age, 24% of euthanasias were performed because of wounds, whereas in horses older than 6 months, the figure was 16%. Finally, it is reported that 7% of injuries leading to the retirement of racehorses are the result of an injury or a wound.

 

Read more: New Treatment Modalities

The Horse as a Model for the Study of Over-Scarring

The study of scar formation in humans has obvious ethical limitations, especially in people with impaired wound healing. Current understanding of the mechanisms underlying scar formation and fibrosis is primarily derived from the study of experimental animal models. Murine models are commonly studied because of the large number of genetically modified mice that help address specific hypotheses. 

 

Read more: The Horse as a Model for the Study of Over-Scarring

Tissue Regeneration / Tissue Engineering

Tissue engineering, which incorporates knowledge of materials science, regeneration biology and current advances in proteomics and genomics, aims to generate new material for replacing diseased or damaged tissues or organs. In the case of skin, the ultimate goal is to create a construct that effects the complete regeneration of functional skin, including all its layers and appendages as well as an operational vascular and nervous network, with scar-free integration within the surrounding host tissue.

 

Read more: Tissue Regeneration / Tissue Engineering