If your horse has had a tendon injury recently, chances are that your veterinary team at least mentioned the availability of stem cell therapy in tendon repair. While it may be out of financial reach for most of us, who must still depend on old-fashioned time and rest to heal our horses, stem cell therapy is being used on horses in growing numbers, particularly in the racing world. What was experimental just a few years ago is standard practice now.
While human stem cell therapy is opposed by some political and religious leaders because of the use of embryonic cells, equine tendon repair uses stem cells extracted from bone marrow. This type of stem cells are called equine mesenchymal stem cells. One leader in this technique is Professor Roger Smith of the Royal Veterinary College of London.
As reported in an article published worldwide today by Reuters, the international new agency, Professor Smith is poised to help human doctors learn the bone marrow extraction technique to help patients who suffer from rotor cuff injuries of the shoulder.
Smith has had lots of practice lately. Ten of the jump-racing horses that competed at the recent Cheltenham Festival of jump racing and one horse in the grueling Grand National had Vetcell tendon repair in their medical histories.
Equine stem cell therapy is achieved by several approaches. While Smith was a pioneer of bone marrow stem cell extraction in horses, US-based VetStem uses stem cells extracted from fat tissue.