Stem Cell Research Offers Hope for Treatment of Injuries

The importance and positive results in the use of stem cell therapy has been proven a number of times, as scientists and researchers work tirelessly to find ways of repairing injuries suffered by horses and not only saving their careers, but also their lives. Tendon, ligament, bone and cartilage damage can be devastating injuries, and even though time off the track and rehabilitation might restore mobility and health, the horse will still be at risk to suffer injuries to the particular area, as the healing process does not restore the injured tissue to its original strength.

Scientists in Australia, are currently working towards a revolutionary solution to these career ending injuries. The Monash Institute of Medical Research has joined forces with the ViaGen Inc Company in the United States of America to create a stem cell bank. Their motivation comes from the horse racing industry and polo ponies, where working horses, especially competitive horses, run a higher risk of injuries to the bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments, and previous stem cell harvesting was an uncomfortable and intrusive procedure.

With the development of stem cell therapy, stem cells were harvested from the bone marrow, after which it had to be sent to the laboratory, to allow the cells to grow into the required tissue cells. It is often a lengthy process which can take two to three weeks. What scientists in Australia have discovered is that by taking the needed samples from the embryo, allows them to retrieve and store equine embryonic stem cell lines. This then allows horses with injuries to be treated with their own stem cells almost immediately, meaning that the chances of the horse’s body rejecting the cells is decreased, due to the cells being the precise genetic match of each horse.

When breeders allow the harvesting of equine embryonic stem cell lines, it assures future owners that there are stem cells available should their horse be injured. The ability to treat these injuries so much faster, gives the horse a quicker recovery time and the opportunity to return to horse racing, without the risk of an injured limb or area being weaker than before. While the project is innovative and radical, it also brings hope to thousands of horses and their owners.