Adult stem cell therapy has been used in horses for some time now to treat a number of different orthopedic problems. More recently, this technology has been introduced into the field of canine medicine.
What are Adult Stem Cells?
Stem cells are primitive cells which can be found in almost all tissues within the body. Stem cells have the ability to become different types of tissue, including tendon, bone and ligament. There has been much in the popular press about embryonic stem cell research. However, adult stem cell research and therapy is far less controversial and much more practical than embryonic stem cell research.
- Adult stem cells vary from embryonic stem cells in that they are present in nearly all adult tissue. Adult stem cells are not derived from an embryo.
- Adult stem cells are able to differentiate themselves into many different types of tissue and are perfect for tissue repair. Embryonic cells are meant to form an entire animal and are unpredictable in repair work. In many instances, embryonic stem cells actually form tumors known as teratomas, making their use for repairing damaged tissues of little value.
- With adult stem cells, the cells can be harvested from an animal, processed, and then replaced into the same animal so there is no chance of rejection of the cells. This is known as an autologous transplant and is similar to a person giving blood prior to a surgical procedure and then receiving his/her own blood when needed.
- Adult stem cells have the ability to regenerate and repair injured tissue.
- there is no regulation of collection by the FDA,
- it provides a safe transplant material with low risk of rejection,
- it is unlikely to transmit disease to the animal, and
- the turn-around time to process fat is quick with no need to wait for tissue culturing.
Normally, fat is collected during a short surgical procedure performed by our veterinarian. The most common sites for collecting fat is from just over the shoulder, side of the chest or from the groin area on dogs and on either side of the tail on a horse.
Once the veterinarian has collected the necessary fat samples, the tissue is then processed on site utilizing our specialized equipment. Processing involves concentrating the sample and isolating the stem cells. Then they can be implanted or injected into your dog or horse at the site of the injury.
What Effects Can You Expect to See with Adult Stem Cell Therapy?
Adult stem cell therapy has the ability to drastically change the quality of your horse or dog's life for the better. Animals with chronic arthritic changes in the joints have experienced dramatic improvement with adult stem cell therapy and those with tendon and ligament injuries have improved as well. Fractures have been found to heal more quickly when treated with adult stem cells.
Although the optimal time to treat tendon and ligament injuries is within 90 days of the injury, even older injuries with scar tissue have shown improvement when adult stem cells were implanted into the injured area. Fractures have been found to receive the greatest benefit of adult stem cell treatment when used within 60 days of the fracture.