Imagine a single injection of a long-acting, inexpensive drug to relieve joint inflammation with no adverse side effects on other organs such as the gut and kidney. That is what Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) researcher, Dr. Mark Hurtig and his team envision as they embark on new technology that could revolutionize the treatment of osteoarthritis and much more.

Sustained release formulations could have great potential in delivering antibiotics, parasiticides or other drugs that require long treatment regimens or treatment of tissues that are difficult to penetrate with oral or other injectable drugs. There could be applications for direct injection of drugs into joints, the spinal column, tendon sheaths and even eyes.

Dr. Hurtig’s current research project on sustained release using intra-articular medication began in the spring of 2016 with the objectives of slowing down the progression and signs of joint disease. Currently, there are no oral drugs registered for use in the treatment of equine osteoarthritis, partly because there are challenges with conventional drugs reaching joint tissues in adequate concentrations. A good example is glucosamine, which has minimal absorption by the equine gastrointestinal tract.