good intentions government regulation, one can sometimes feel jealous of the lives of domesticated animals. At least in the field of veterinary medicine, one can release a product without too much intervention, leading to therapies being available to animals years before they are to humans. MIT Technology Review profiles the latest work from University of California, Davis, VetCell (Cambridge, England), and Vet-Stem (Poway, California) in using stem cell therapies to help injured horses recover from soft tissue damage.
A handful of studies in animals have shown that these stem-cell therapies are effective, allowing more animals to return to racing, reducing reinjury rates, and cutting healing times. VetCell, a company based in the United Kingdom that derives stem cells from bone marrow, has used its therapy on approximately 1,700 horses to date. In a study of 170 jumping horses tracked through both treatment and rehabilitation, researchers found that nearly 80 percent of them could return to racing, compared with previously published data showing that about 30 percent of horses given traditional therapies could return to racing. After three years, the reinjury rate was much lower in stem-cell-treated animals–about 23 percent compared with the published average of 56 percent, says David Mountford, a veterinary surgeon and chief operating officer at VetCell.
While scientists still don’t know exactly how the cells aid repair of the different types of injuries, for tendon tears, initial studies show that stem cells appear to help the tissue regenerate without forming scar tissue.
Read on at MIT Technology Review…
Image: Ultrasound images show the tendon in a horse’s front leg. An area of damage (circle in yellow, top) has healed (bottom) after the injection of stem cells derived from the animal’s fat. Credit: Vet-Stem
Links: Vet-Stem equine applications, VetCell Bioscience…