Dr Stephanie Dakin, an Arthritis Research UK Fellow at NDORMS, is exploring the treatment of tendon injuries in humans building on her significant experience working with horses. She was interviewed this week by the BBC and explains:
Horses are highly evolved to run efficiently. The tendons in their lower limbs function as energy storing springs enabling them to move quickly in an almost passive manner. One disadvantage of this is that these tendons operate very closely to their functional limits, therefore athletic horses are highly prone to developing tendon injuries.
Tendon injuries in horses and humans occur due to a combination of factors including the effects of ageing, repetitive exercise and inflammation. This makes the horse an excellent model of studying tendon pathology in humans. Tendon injuries in both horses and humans are difficult to treat, require prolonged rehabilitation and heal by the formation of scar tissue which is prone to re-injury.
Findings from studying tendon injuries in horses are currently being advanced and translated to help human patients with tendon injuries. It is hoped that the current Arthritis Research UK funded work at the Botnar Research Centre will help to identify new therapies to treat Achilles and rotator cuff tendinopathy in the future. Our goal is to advance this under-researched area of tendon healing so that both human and equine patients can benefit from this research.
The video above has been kindly provided by BBC Oxford to help explain the work that is being done. It can be temporarily viewed at higher quality on the BBC iPlayer service.