Stem Cell Therapy

“After harvesting and concentrating the stem cells in a laboratory, the stem cells and bone marrow are transferred into the damaged ligament or tendon,” Herthel says. “They reproduce into normal, healthy tissue, thus improving healing and providing
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They were a couple of hard-luck cases: Two horses with torn suspensory ligaments. For close to two years they were lame, their injuries unresponsive to conventional therapies, with no effective means of resolution in the offing. Recalls Doug Herthel, DVM, Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center, Los Olivos, Calif., “I was disgusted with laying up horses for six to 12 months and having them come back lame. At that time, veterinarians tried laser treatments, infrared treatments, ultrasound therapies, and just about every kind of injection known to mankind. So we thought, “Why not inject regenerative cells containing growth factors and fibrin into the torn ligaments and see what happens. ”

What happened, back in 1995, was the two horses became better within a couple of months. Since then, Herthel has used this means of treatment, now known as stem cell therapy, on more than 2,000 horses, with the majority demonstrating remarkable improvement. Other veterinarians have followed suit.

Stem Cell Therapy 101

Stem cells are immature, vigorous cells that mature into any of the hundreds of various body cell types–nerve, blood, heart, muscle, fat, bone, cartilage, etc. They are what turns an embryo into a fetus into a baby into an adult. They have plasticity, meaning they are adaptable and capable of being manipulated into becoming different types of cells

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Marcia King is an award-winning freelance writer based in Ohio who specializes in equine, canine, and feline veterinary topics. She’s schooled in hunt seat, dressage, and Western pleasure.

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