“Regenerative medicine has been referred to by many people as a veritable alphabet soup,” said Ashlee Watts, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, of Texas A&M. “There are many types and varieties of stem cells, growth factors, what have you.” Equine researchers indeed have been studying, using, and learning more about everything from MSCs to PRP and ACS to BMPs—don’t worry, we’ll explain later—all with a goal of harnessing natural healing processes to improve injured horse tissue repair for a better, more functional outcome. A cross-section of the scientists shared their findings during a session on how to choose these therapies at the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In addition to moderating the session, Watts, who is assistant professor at the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, in College Station, was tasked with breaking regenerative medicine down to the basics for veterinarians. “The first thing for stem cells is we really need to understand what in fact is a stem cell?” she said. “It’s a cell that can do two things through asymmetric division. One half of the cell division creates a cell to replace itself, or self-renew. The second half of the cell division can become different tissue types, or differentiate.”

There are several types of stem cells to understand before diving into the world of regenerative medicine. A few of them might sound familiar due to ethical debates in mainstream media about the human versions, but here we’ll spell them out for equine use.

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