Orthopaedic injuries account for the majority of career-limiting diseases in horses used for athletic purposes ranging from pleasure riding to high-performance sport endeavours like jumping, racing, endurance or dressage competitions. The advances in equine orthopaedics and diagnostic imaging have improved our understanding of many orthopaedic injuries and, in most instances, allow for a very well defined diagnosis in terms of morphological assessment of damaged musculoskeletal tissue. However, advances in therapeutic methods are unable to keep pace with improvements in diagnostics – this is especially true in equine orthopaedics. Successful outcome is commonly hindered by the slow regeneration or even incomplete reparation of mesenchymal tissues: for example, equine fracture patients commonly suffer from delayed bony union, horses with subchondral cystic lesions show incomplete regeneration of the bony defect even after surgical debridement and horses with tendon injuries require a very long phase of convalescence and still have a high risk of re-injury because of insufficient and minor-quality repair tissue within the tendon. Therefore, our group aims to study and develop regenerative methods to improve healing of injured musculoskeletal tissue in the horse.
In the field of tendon healing, this involves the monitoring of the process of tenogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells. Once this process is more clearly understood, we aim to improve the conditions of the stem cell environment to achieve regeneration of tendon tissue after stem cell treatment of a tendon lesion.
In the field of bone regeneration, we aim to study the effect of different external sources of growth factors and cytokines on osteoblastic activity. A suitable growth factor or cytokine combination could enhance bony regeneration, e.g. after debridement of subchondral cystic lesions, especially if delivered via a suitable matrix or carrier system. To achieve these goals, we cooperate with the Bone and Stem Cell Research Group and the Tendon Repair Group.