Editor's Note: This article first appeared in Medical Front in the November 2007 issue of EQUUS magazine.
For the first time, stem cells have been harvested from equine umbilical cord blood.
Stem cells can develop into a variety of specialized cells, making them potentially useful for treating such problems as cancer, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries. In human medicine, they have been harvested from embryos, adult tissues and umbilical cord blood.
Recently, researchers from the University of Guelph in Canada and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark succeeded in growing stem cell colonies from the umbilical cord blood of four newborn foals. The resulting stem cells were differentiated into various tissue lines including bone cells, fat cells and cartilage cells.
The researchers say that this breakthrough may lead to the production of equine stem cells superior to those currently obtained through other methods. They add that these stem cells may provide a useful model for therapy in people.