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‘Pioneering’ bone repair technology puts racehorse back on the track

“Pioneering” bone repair technology developed in Ireland has enabled an injured racehorse to return to the track.

A thoroughbred filly has had successful jaw reconstruction using technology known as HydroxyColl.

Annagh Haven had a large swelling in her jaw caused by a complex cyst when she was a two-year-old. The racehorse’s jaw was at risk of breaking and she was unable to eat, leaving her at risk of being put down.

The technology has been developed by researchers in the Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research Centre (AMBER), a collaboration involving Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) led by Professor Fergal O’Brian.

The patented technology consists of collagen and hydroxyapatite, components native to bone, formed into a 3D porous “scaffold” which acts as a bone graft substitute.

Dr Florent David at University College Dublin’s veterinary hospital removed the cyst and implanted sheets of the scaffold.

Bone cells and blood vessels “cling” to the scaffold allowing for new tissue regeneration and the procedure has enabled the bone tissue to repair and the normal bone shape and function to be restored.

Since surgery, now five years old Annagh Haven, trained by Michael Mulvany and owned by Laurence Mulvany, has won one race and been placed in five others in Ireland.

The technology is expected to get regulatory approval for human use in the next few months.

Damien English, the Irish minister of state for skills, research and innovation said: “I congratulate Professor O’Brian, his team and collaborators at AMBER for this breakthrough solution that could have real application in the veterinary sector and which could ultimately improve the lives of thousands of people also.”

H&H vet Karen Coumbe added: “This is an innovative treatment for an unusual condition.”

Ref: Horse & Hound; 5 February 2015

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