Cell-Mediated Bone Morphogenetic Protein Gene Therapy for Bone Healing in Horses

Purpose of study

To demonstrate an efficacy and safety of cell-mediated molecular therapy for bone disorders and bone regeneration in horses with bone lesions.


Background Information

The horse is particularly prone to delayed- or non-union of bone and need for bone fusion exist in both horse and dogs. Many types of bone injuries result in fibrous unions or loss of bone that our strips the natural capacity for bone healing. Also, bone has a limited spontaneous filling capacity in the segmental bone defects and subchondral bone cysts. In equine orthopedic patients, morbidity, hospitalization, prolonged pain medication and expense of protracted treatment is not well tolerated; therefore, acceleration of healing may have a substantial economical compact on the horse industry.

Bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP2) is one of the most potent osteogenic growth factors which is known to be a key signaling molecule during osteogenesis. The cell-mediated delivery of BMP2 has been shown to induce bone formation and promote acceleration and enhancement of healing in various types of bone tissue injuries and disorders. A number of previous research works have demonstrated that cell-mediated BMP2 therapy can promote bone healing by increasing bone volume and mineral density, while improving physical integrity, and creating histologically more mature and denser bones. Skin cells containing BMP2 have been injected in over 60 sites in horses without complication, and is deemed safe in horses. Because of the promising results from these studies, the application of such an innovative cell-mediated therapy for the treatment of clinical patients with various osseous disorders is warranted.

Inclusion criteria

  • Have a confirmed diagnosis of either a
    • fracture
    • delayed-/non-unions
    • subchondral cone cysts
  • Lameness examination and imaging to assess if cell-mediated BMP2 would be beneficial

Study Design/Treatment Schedule

  • Day 1 Bone marrow aspiration and/or skin punch biopsy
  • Week 1-3 Incision sites will be monitored
  • Day 21 Cell-mediated therapy application; +/- primary surgery
  • Day 60-90 Re-evaluation to include lameness examination, diagnostic imaging, and blood work

Client Compensation

The study covers biopsy and therapy application. The owner is responsible for all other costs including office visits and examinations.

Contact Information

For more information on this study, please contact Dr. Alicia Bertone via bertone [dot] 1 [at] osu [dot] edu.