Stem Cell Therapy as a Potential Treatment for Laminitis

Stem cells therapy might offer practitioners an additional treatment option for the fight against laminitis.

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While researchers have not yet completed any formal studies of stem cells and laminitis, both Raul Bras, DVM, CJF, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital’s podiatry department, and John Peroni, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, of the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, have clinical experience using stem cells for laminitis cases, and they presented at the 2012 International Equine Conference of the Equine Limb–Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics, held Nov. 2-3 in Monterey, Calif.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are multipotent stromal (connective tissue) cells that can differentiate into many types of cells, including those that make up bone, cartilage, and fat. Research shows that stem cell therapy helps improve the quality of healing in orthopedic (bone) lesions.

"MSC therapy is an attractive treatment modality (for laminitis) because of its potential to positively influence tissue repair," Bras said. The hope is that it would also help repair laminar damage and stabilize the coffin bone within the hoof capsule.

In addition to the possibility of healing tissues, studies show that stem cell treatment has an anti-inflammatory effect, which might offer an additional benefit to the laminitic horse

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Written by:

Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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