What is Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) Therapy?
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets, using a process of standard whole blood collection, followed by anticoagulation (usually with citrate dextrose), and finally, centrifugation. This process separates the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) component of the blood from the red blood cells and other non-therapeutic components, producing a concentrated source of self-derived (“autologous”) platelets as the final PRP product.
This resulting PRP component contains both growth factors and cytokines that may have ability to support or stimulate healing of bone, as well as soft tissue structures, such as ligaments, tendons, fascia, and more. While there have not yet been large-scale, controlled clinical trials conducted to evaluate the efficacy of PRP, the procedure has nonetheless become commonplace in medical offices worldwide, most notably, within orthopedic offices.
PRP is now widely utilized for a wide range of human applications, including the following:
- Sports Medicine
- Oral & Maxillofacial(OMF)
- Pain Management
- Traumatic Injury
- Chronic Disease
Niche Market Opportunity for Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) – Veterinary Applications
While platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is certainly best known for its human applications, it is also utilized in a range of veterinary applications, most often for addressing equine (horse) diseases and injuries. The demand for the procedure is driven by the relatively high monetary value of race horses, and to a lesser degree, work horses. The demand is also driven by the long average lifespan of horses, which commonly ranges from 25 to 30 years. On average, horses are the longest living domesticated species.
For veterinary applications, PRP is most often used to treat recent injuries of the deep and superficial digital flexor tendons, the suspensory ligament, and other ligaments. There is also an evidence of successful PRP use in equine joints, usually following arthroscopic surgery. In rare instances, PRP is also used to enhance wound healing in the gel form, but this application is not yet widely spread.1
Sometimes, stem cell therapy involving aspirated bone marrow is also used in veterinary applications, primarily for tendon and ligament injuries since it results in better functional repair, as well as reduced re-injury rates. The procedure starts with bone marrow aspiration from the sternum of an injured horse. It is then processed, mesenchymal stem cells are identified, and finally, the cells are expanded within a laboratory environment.2 However, for the superficial digital flexor tendon, PRP has been demonstrated as an effective method to treat such injuries.
On a global basis, PRP applications are limited to use within large veterinary clinics and hospitals, because the procedure requires advanced methods. Similar to human applications, veterinary applications of PRP are utilized almost exclusively within the developed markets and have not yet spread to rural areas within the United States, the European Union (EU), or other undeveloped regions.
With canines (dogs), the use of PRP in point of care applications is very limited, largely because of the relatively high cost of treatment relative to the price value of the animal and the comparatively shorter lifespan. However, PRP treatments for domesticated canines have begun to emerge on a small scale within countries that have strong purchasing power and higher that average customer spending on pet care expenses.
In summary, the primary market potential for PRP is in human applications, which represent greater than 95% of the total market value for PRP applications. However, veterinary applications of PRP do represent an interesting niche market opportunity for forward-thinking companies that are looking to wedge into the PRP market, potentially through new technologies, equipment, or approaches.
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1 Cotts Farm Equine Hospital: http://www.cottsequine.co.uk/factsheets/Factsheets/Horse/24_295900.shtml. Accessed Jan 13, 2016.
2 Alnorthumbria Vets: http://www.alnorthumbriavets.co.uk/index.php?page=alias-20. Accessed Sep 13, 2015.