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Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy for Horses

(Knoxville, TN.  July 16, 2014) 

The inner workings of regenerative medicine sound like something from a science fiction movie, a science that replaces or regenerates human or animal cells, tissues, or organs to restore or establish normal function following impairment.  At the UT Veterinary Medical Center, the Regenerative Medicine Service uses this science to treat various equine diseases.

         Dr. Steve Adair, equine surgeon and board-certified veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation expert, talks about stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine at the Equine Performance and Rehabilitation Center at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center

Dr. Steve Adair, board-certified specialist in Equine Surgery and Veterinary Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, was a recent guest on WBIR's Live at Five at Four to talk about regenerative medicine and adult stem cell therapy. Click here to watch the interview. Below are additional questions and answers about stem cell therapy.

What are adult stem cells and platelet-rich plasma?  Adult stem cells are specialized cells involved in the formation of the various body tissues and organs. Some of these cells can develop into many different tissues (known as differentiation) and therefore have tremendous healing capabilities.  Platelet-rich plasma contains growth factors and other compounds that accelerate and improve the healing process.

What types of conditions are treatable with stem cell therapy? Adult stem cells are being used as a treatment for a variety of equine diseases including but not limited to ligament and tendon disease, joint diseases (arthritis), wounds, fractures, laminitis (founder), and many others.


What should a horse owner do to find out if stem cell therapy is right for their animal? What should the owner expect during the treatment?  First, they should discuss treatment options with their veterinarian who will be able to determine if stem cells are appropriate therapy for the horse's condition. If the owners are going to use cells from their own horse, we will collect the cells which may entail taking a bone marrow sample or a fat sample. Then these tissues are processed and stem cells recovered by our Regenerative Medicine Service. Once the stem cells are ready, they will be injected into the affected area of the horse (some are given via I.V.). Recovery time depends on the condition and severity of the disease. Stem cell therapy should speed up recovery by several weeks. During recovery, the horse should also undergo some type of rehabilitation program, which may consist of stall confinement and hand-walking or more strenuous exercise; we determine that case-by-base. Stem cell therapy is a very individualized medicine and does not replace more traditional therapies.  It is used as an additional therapy.


Are there other applications for stem cell therapy? While we need more studies regarding stem cell application and what conditions respond best to stem cell therapy, it has the potential to have benefit in many other diseases where regeneration and micro-environmental manipulation would help to restore function, such as allergic lung disease, gastrointestinal inflammatory diseases, exercise induced pulmonary hemorrhage, liver disease, cardiovascular diseases, ocular disease and spinal cord and nerve diseases.


What makes stem cell therapy different at UT College of Veterinary Medicine? We do the research evaluating the efficacy of different stem cell preparations and delivery methods. Not all stem cells are created equal, and even stem cells from your own horse may not be of the best quality. We are one of the few places that offer allogeneic cells, which means we have stem cells ready to inject that have been fully characterized.





Posted: 07-16-14 Viewed: 90392 times

Media Relations

Sandra Harbison
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Tennessee
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996

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