‘Bleeding’ Study Seeks 100 Performance Horses

The use of Lasix as a treatment for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage could end if stem cell therapy proves successful.

September 17, 2015

VetStem Biopharma is looking for 100 performance horses with a history of lung bleeding to participate in a study of whether stem cell therapy may be effective in cases of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH).

If proven, the treatment could replace the popular but controversial race-day drug Lasix (furosemide).

The Poway, Calif., company reported that two patients—a thoroughbred racehorse and a Quarter horse barrel racer—showed no recurrence of EIPH after being treated with adipose-derived SVF and culture-expanded adipose stem cells. The early success led to the launch this week of a clinical research project that requires up to 100 horses, ranging from thoroughbreds and Standardbreds to barrel racers, three-day eventers and steeplechasers.

VetStem Biopharma hopes to enroll the horses by year’s end and later submit the research data for publication. A larger study will be undertaken if the results are positive, said Ross Rich, DVM, the company’s director of clinical research.

Veterinarians recommending horses for the study need to confirm EIPH[1] through a post-race endoscopic examination or by bronchoalveolar lavage, Dr. Rich said.

Lasix is controversial in the United States because of its potential as a performance-enhancing drug and as a masking agent for other drugs.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners supports the use of Lasix as a race-day medication to control EIPH “in the absence of a more effective treatment/preventative,” according to the group’s position statement.

VetStem Biopharma[2] hopes it has found a new treatment for EIPH.

“That’s the whole intent of the study: to prove that this will replace Lasix[3] … which is a temporary preventative,” Rich said. “[Stem cell therapy] has the potential to be a permanent repair for this type of problem.”

Endnotes:
  1. EIPH: /April-2009/Chinese-Herb-Known-For-Hemostatic-Abilities/
  2. VetStem Biopharma: /Changes-Inject-New-Life-Into-VetStem/
  3. Lasix: /May-2014/Video-A-Day-At-The-Races-The-Real-Life-Of-A-Racehorse-Veterinarian/

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