Stem Cell-PRP Combination Effective in Treating Lesions

A stem cell-PRP combination could be more effective than either therapy alone for treating soft tissue lesions

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Stem cell therapy combined with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy could be more effective than either therapy alone for treating "overuse" injuries in competition horses, according to an Italian research team that recently completed a study on the topic.

"Literature shows that stem cells are a promising tool in regenerative medicine … especially for tendon and ligament injuries, alone or in association with PRP," said Paola Torricelli, ScB, researcher in the laboratory of preclinical and surgical studies at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute in Bologna, and primary author of the study. "So we expected to obtain better results from the combined therapy (as compared to PRP treatment alone)."

In a clinical trial simulating an approach already used for human athletes, researchers extracted autologous bone marrow mononuclear cells (BMMNCs, stem cells derived from the horse’s own body rather than those collected from another animal) and PRP from competition horses that suffered from a suspensory ligament desmopathy (ligament disease) or a superficial flexor tendinopathy (tendon disease) as a result of stress from the high level of work they did. (For an overview of how stem cells help injured tissue heal, take a look at Stem Cells and Tissue Healing in Horses.)

The BMMNCs and PRP were prepared before being injected directly into the musculoskeletal injury site, which was located via ultrasound examination. All 13 study horses returned to "high level training" within a year of the procedure, Torricelli noted

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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