Stem Cell Therapy

In animals, much of the research has been focused on orthopedic injuries in horses and dogs: bone fractures, arthritis, and tendon and ligament injuries.

Research has been conducted on horses, dogs, and cats can benefit the development of stem cell treatments in veterinary medicine and can target a wide range of injuries and diseases. While investigation of cell-based therapeutics generally reflects human medical needs, the high degree of frequency and severity of certain injuries in racehorses has put veterinary medicine at the forefront of this novel regenerative approach.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

PRP is blood plasma with a concentrated platelet count.  The concentrated platelets are obtained by centrifugation or filtration of the horse’s blood. The plasma obtained can be injected directly into the tendon, ligament lesion or directly into the joint.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) vs Stem Cells

There are so many questions about PRP and Stem Cells. Here, I will talk about the main differences between the two.

  • Advantages of PRP

    Platelet Rich Plasma

    Platelet Rich Plasma

  • Advantages of Stem Cell Therapy
  • When do I Use PRP vs Stem Cells?

The advantages of using PRP include:

  • The ease of use and administration of growth factors.
  • Great anti-inflammatory properties
  • The facility to obtain PRP compared to stem cells
  • Less expensive

The advantages of using Stem Cell Therapy include: 

  • Possibly better healing
  • Regeneration of tissue

The Best of Both Worlds: PRP and STEM CELLS together

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Stem Cells and PRP

This horse received both Stem Cells and PRP

  • Better healing
  • Faster antinflamatories

 

Final outcome 9 months later.

The healing quality showed in the longevity of the athlete. Treatment was 3 years ago and the horse continues to compete sound without recurrence.

More on Stem Cells

Stem cells can be derived from multiple sources. They can be obtained from either the fat, bone marrow,  dental pulp cavity, placenta and others.
They are most commonly used for tendon, ligament healing, and joint repair. Although we are using them in other areas such as LUNGS and it is showing to be very promising.

Ligament and Tendon Repair

Stem cell-based treatments for ligament injury, tendon injury, osteoarthritis, osteochondrosis, and sub-chondral bone cysts have been commercially available to practicing veterinarians to treat horses since 2003 in the United States.

Race horses are especially prone to injuries of the tendon and ligaments. Conventional therapies are very unsuccessful in returning the horse to full functioning potential. Natural healing, guided by the conventional treatments, leads to the formation of fibrous scar tissue that reduces flexibility and full joint movement. Traditional treatments prevented a large number of horses from returning to full activity and also have a high incidence of re-injury due to the stiff nature of the scarred tendon. Introduction of both bone marrow and adipose derived stem cells, along with natural mechanical stimulus promoted the regeneration of tendon tissue. The natural movement promoted the alignment of the new fibers and tendocytes with the natural alignment found in uninjured tendons. Stem cell treatment not only allowed more horses to return to full duty and also greatly reduced the re-injury rate over a three-year period.[wikipedia reference64]

The use of embryonic stem cells has also been applied to tendon repair. The embryonic stem cells were shown to have a better survival rate in the tendon as well as better migrating capabilities to reach all areas of damaged tendon. The overall repair quality was also higher, with better tendon architecture and collagen formed. There was also no tumor formation seen during the three-month experimental period. Long-term studies need to be carried out to examine the long-term efficacy and risks associated with the use of embryonic stem cells.[wikipedia reference]

Joint Repair

Osteoarthritis is the main cause of joint pain both in animals and humans. Horses and dogs are most frequently affected by arthritis. Natural cartilage regeneration is very limited. Different types of mesenchymal stem cells and other additives are still being researched to find the best type of cell and method for long-term treatment.[wikipedia reference]

Daily research continues exploring the mode of action and benefits of stem cell therapy, and the application of stem cell therapy continues to expand in equine medicine.

Author

Dr. Alberto Rullan, DMV