Since discovery of stem cells in the 1950’s, unexpected advances have been made. Adult stem cells (including bone marrow, adipose, umbilical cord blood and others) function as a pool of resting cells that are capable of fighting inflammation, assisting in healing, and forming new tissue.
Contrary to previous theory that only bone marrow could be a source of stem cells, almost every tissue has a storehouse of stem cells in it.
Currently, adult stem cells are being used to treat injuries to tendon, ligament, meniscus, and cartilage as well as augmenting fracture healing in bone. Disease processes that might benefit from stem cell therapy include Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO) or heaves, laminitis, endotoxemia, or infections.
Our research has compared the effectiveness of different sources of stem cells to forming tendon. Stem cells taken from ten- don make new tendon best; bone marrow also formed tendon effectively. However, adipose (fat) stem cells do not form tendon as effectively as stem cells isolated from bone marrow or tendon. We have also shown that growing stem cells under special conditions greatly increases their anti- inflammatory properties. We are developing this approach to treat osteoarthritis.
We also developed new techniques to deliver stem cells to areas of injury via ultrasound and radiographic guidance. MRI guidance in standing horses is used to deliver stem cells or platelet rich plasma into the site of injury. Arterial infusion is also used to deliver stem cells to the front legs of horses, allowing the cells to migrate into injuries that are further along in the healing process or to treat laminitis. There is strong evidence that using a horse’s own bone marrow stem cells is safe and effective for treating tendon, liga- ment and joint injury. Further work is needed to optimize these therapies, but this exciting era of regenerative medicine is upon us!
For further information about regenerative medicine, contact Dr. Jennifer Barrett at 703-771-6800.
(sponsored content; originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of The Equiery)
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