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Horse Trust-Funded Research Discovers Reduction in Tendon Renewal Rate in Older Horses

Paul Jepson, Chief Executive and Veterinary Director of The Horse Trust, said he is pleased that the research funded by the charity is advancing knowledge around tendon injury.

“We are delighted that the research we have funded has improved understanding around tendon injury and could lead to improved prevention and treatment in the future. Tendon injury seriously impacts on a horse’s quality of life and because of its incurable nature causes a significant reduction in life expectancy,” said Paul.

In the final stage of The Horse Trust-funded research, Birch will be looking at whether tendon cells can be re-programmed using mechanical signals to behave more like  cells from tendons which turnover more rapidly. Success rates for cell therapy, which is a popular treatment for SDFT injury, could benefit from pre-conditioning cells prior to implantation.

Dr Birch’s research interests are in tendon biology and the mechanisms leading to tendon degeneration and subsequent rupture. More information on Birch’s research interests can be found here:

(1) Thorpe, C.T, Streeter, I,  Pinchbeck, G.L., Goodship, A.E., Clegg, P.D, and Birch, H.L. (2010)

Aspartic Acid Racemization and Collagen Degradation Markers Reveal an Accumulation of Damage in Tendon Collagen That Is Enhanced with Aging J. Biol. Chem. 2010 285: 15674-15681.

(2) Lam, K.H., Parkin, T.D., Riggs, C.M. and Morgan, K.L. (2007) Descriptive analysis of

retirement of Thoroughbred racehorses due to tendon injuries at the Hong Kong

Jockey Club (1992-2004). Equine vet. J. 39, 143-148.

(3) Kasashima, Y., Takahashi, T., Smith, R.K., Goodship, A.E., Kuwano, A., Ueno, T. and

Hirano, S. (2004) Prevalence of superficial digital flexor tendonitis and

suspensory desmitis in Japanese Thoroughbred flat racehorses in 1999. Equine

vet. J. 36, 346-350.

(4) Ely, E.R., Verheyen, K.L. and Wood, J.L. (2004) Fractures and tendon injuries in

National Hunt horses in training in the UK: A pilot study. Equine vet. J. 36,


(5) For more information on Birch’s earlier findings see—with-potential-ramifications-for-the-prevention-and-treatment-of-tendonitis/

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