AFA Funds Equine Stem Cell Research Grant

Researchers will work to develop culture techniques so donor stem cells can be used safely and effectively in horses.
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The American Farrier’s Association (AFA) has donated $10,000 through its equine research fund to the Morris Animal Foundation in support of equine stem cell research being conducted by Alix Berglund, DVM, a Morris Animal Foundation fellow and graduate research assistant at North Carolina State University.

In conjunction with the work of Lauren Schnabel, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, ACVSMR, and Matthew Fisher, PhD, Berglund’s research is focused on “developing new culture techniques that will help stem cells avoid detection by the immune system, thereby allowing for safe and efficacious therapy in horses using donor stem cells.”

Currently, stem cell treatments are limited by the quality of a patient’s cells and the time it takes to culture them, and donor cells are rejected by a horse’s immune system if perceived as foreign. A culture technique that would enable donor stem cells to avoid detection as foreign by the recipient’s immune system would, in turn, greatly enhance the opportunities for conveniently and effectively utilizing stem cell therapy over what is currently possible.

“Stem cell therapies have the potential to improve the outcome of severe and potentially life-ending musculoskeletal diseases in horses, including those of the distal limb and foot,” Berglund said. “In particular, stem cells have shown promise for the treatment of deep digital flexor tendon lesions associated with navicular syndrome and for the treatment of laminitis

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