CSU research on horse injuries, stem-cell recovery, may help humans

I found this article by Kieran Nicholson from The Denver Post quite interesting.
I hope that you do too!

Stem-cell research by Colorado State University staffers using bone marrow from horses to heal joint injuries on the same animal is making strides, and researchers have great hope that the project will lead to human medical applications.

A team with CSU’s Equine Orthopaedic Research Center reports that adding stem-cell therapy to traditional arthroscopic surgery on horses has significantly increased success rates.

Horses that had follow-up, stem-cell treatment were twice as likely to return to normal activity as those that did not, said David Frisbie, an associate professor of equine surgery with CSU and part of the research team.

“We’ve doubled it, conservatively,” in treating cartilage damage in the knee, Frisbie said.

The team had results of its work published last year in the journal Veterinary Surgery.

Some lesions in the meniscus of horses that could not be treated by surgery have been successfully mended using stem cells alone.

“Western performance horses, reining and cutting horses, and barrel horses are very prone to meniscal injuries,” Frisbie said.

Beyond meniscus damage, researchers also have focused on tendon lesions in the lower leg, which typically strike race horses.

Horses that suffered a tendon lesion had about a 66 percent chance of reinjury after surgery. Add stem-cell treatment and the reinjury rate drops to 21 percent, Frisbie said.

“It beats the old standards of therapies,” which included cortisone and use of other steroids, Frisbie said.

Part of the newer, promising process includes harvesting stem cells and “culturing” or “expanding” to multiple stem cell counts from hundreds of thousands into millions. After the swelling of the injured area subsides following surgery, stem cells are directly injected and the healing process is escalated, researchers said.

The group’s research has been ongoing since 2003, and recent advancements are raising the prospect of human applications.

Bill Rodkey, chief scientific officer and director of basic science research at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, works with the CSU team in exploring possibilities of stem-cell applications in healing human injury.

Rodkey has worked in regenerative medicine for the past 25 years and with stem-cell applications for the past seven years.

“What we’re doing is trying to move forward in the treatment of human patients,” Rodkey said.

Stem-cell trials on human knee injuries, based in part on work done in Colorado on horses, are ongoing in Chile and South Korea, Rodkey said.

Data to be presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in hopes of gaining federal approval for human trials, is around the corner, Rodkey said. Colorado researchers hope to approach federal officials in about a year.

Developments probably will go beyond severe knee injuries to include prospects of alleviating arthritis and other debilitating joint and knee problems.

“We’re probably looking at more chronic injuries initially,” Rodkey said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to expand that in due time to more acute injuries. We are very excited about the possibilities.”

Article by: Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, January 9, 2015


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