Stem-cell therapy could reshape orthopedics in animals and people alike

Vet-stem is using stem cell treatments in horses that should work in humans

Popular Science – Stem-Cell Therapy Works Wonders for Race Horses; Are Human Treatments Next?

Since 2002 the company Vet-Stem has treated 4,141 horses for soft-tissue injuries such as tendinitis and muscle contusions, and 70 to 80 percent have healed completely.

There is little doubt that stem-cell therapy could reshape orthopedics in animals and people alike. After all, Harman says, “when a Super Bowl linebacker tears a ligament, it’s the same deal as with horses.” The basic tissue structure in the legs of both species is similar, and the kind of soft-tissue injuries that Harman is studying in horses are also common in humans: About 80,000 people tear their ACL every year, and several thousand miss a few days of work a year because of tendinitis.

Simple Treatment of extacting stem cells, growing them and then injecting

* Take bone-marrow samples from 61 horses suffering soft-tissue injuries, extracted the stem cells, and allowed them to proliferate in the lab.

* take the concentrated cell formula and injected it into the horses’ injured tendons

* Nearly two years after treatment, 85 percent of these horses, all of which had been failed by previous rehab programs, were healed.

Status of Regenerative medicine on humans and animals


Human clinical trials:

Crohn’s fistula

Ongoing human clinical trials:

Advanced heart failure
Heart bypass surgical trial
Liver disease
Renal disease

Animal models of disease:

Osteochondral defects
Tendon repair
Cerebral infarction
Myocardial infarction
Muscular dystrophy
Autoimmune disorders

Other Stem Cell Treatments that are successful with horses

During the past year, a variety of isolation and culture techniques have made stem cell use more available to veterinarians. Fat collection now is similar to liposuction in order to harvest adequate tissue and reduce the cosmetic scar that was present with the older surgical technique.

Some of the more recent processing methods have allowed a shorter turn around time and a more efficient recovery of multipotent cells. In addition, recent research has determined that when collecting bone marrow from either the sternum or pelvis, the greatest numbers of pluripotent cells are in the first 5-10cc of marrow collected.

Therefore, less volume is needed if the sample is to be purified or cultured (expanded) in the lab for later use. Cultured (expanded) stem cells, which may take three to four weeks to grow adequately, now can be more pure with a reduced possibility of a reaction once re-injected into a patient.

Additionally, stem cell therapy has moved from primarily injection into a specific injury site to use by regional perfusion or systemic intravenous administration. Biologic “pastes” of stem cells also are being used to fill defects following surgery.

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