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Naturally occurring stem cells can transform into tendon, bone, ligament, and other specialized cells to assist in growth and regeneration of damaged cells until they re-establish themselves as healthy tissue.
HHH: There are two types of stem cells: embryonic and adult. Embryonic stem cells can develop into an organ whereas adult stem cells can only support regeneration. Once horses and humans are born, all stem cells become adult. Political issues aside, embryonic stem cells have other disadvantages, such as potential for tumors. The recipient of embryonic stem cells must take immuno-suppressant drugs for life because the body views these cells as “foreign” material (unless originally obtained from that person or animal).
HHH: Adult stem cells are most abundant in bone marrow. On average, 150 million bone marrow stem cells are continually producing more stem cells throughout your horse’s life. Each circulates in the bloodstream assisting dysfunctional tissues. Doctors have been transferring blood-forming adult stem cells in human bone marrow for more than 40 years. Less than 10 years ago, bone marrow adult stem cell use dominated the industry, but other tissues such as neuron, fat, and olfactory have been found to contain adult stem cells. Adult spleen cells have shown a reversal of diabetes in hundreds of animals, which led the FDA to approve human trial research (The New York Times, Nov. 9, 2004).
HHH: Equine candidates for adult fat stem-cell therapy include horses with old or chronic ligament, suspensory, or tendon injuries, and fractures. More than 3000 horses have already benefited from adult stem cell treatment. Equine cartilage damage and degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) are being explored now as well. Your vet will determine if your horse is a good candidate for stem cell therapy using ultrasounds, X-rays, nerve blocks, etc. Once a proper diagnosis is made, it takes about 48 hours to complete the process, not including rehab.
HHH: Fat contains a high concentration of easily processed adult stem cells. Fat-derived stem cells are easily accessed and harvested in about 4 hours from a fresh sample (2 tbsp) usually taken from a fatty area of the injured horse’s tail head. The sample is overnighted to the lab where the stem cells are isolated, concentrated, put in a syringe and then overnighted back to your vet who injects them directly into an injury site. Stem cells can also be frozen and stored (also called banked) for future use.
HHH: Healing is known to be rapid, thorough, and with little scar tissue. Many performance horses have recovered soundly to compete again. To avoid injury relapse, tears and lesions require more long-term rest. An underwater treadmill is a huge advantage in rehab for those fortunate enough to have access. Those who choose to use corticosteroids (see HH Issue 56 Aug/Sept 2008, pp8-10 for steroid alternatives) must avoid steroid use for at least 2 weeks after stem cell injection. No shock wave treatment can be used for 60 days. Successful recovery depends on proper rehabilitation with support from you, your veterinarian and your farrier.
HHH: Stem cell enhancement products are unrelated to vet extracted and replaced adult stem cells. Just as there are vitamins, herbs, enzymes, antioxidants, etc., there are now stem cell enhancers. Currently patents pending, the original studies were conducted by research scientist Christian Drapeau of Canada. Stem Enhance™ for horses is a blend of two compounds proprietarily extracted without chemicals from naturally grown (not farmed) blue green algae. One extract is said to support the release of stem cells from bone marrow because of its naturally occurring L-selectin ligand; the other is a polysaccharide-rich fraction called Migratose™ (an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory), which supports mood and energy.
HHH: Science suggests that the higher the number of circulating adult stem cells, the greater the body’s vitality, well being and ability to heal itself. Of the many proposed benefits of StemEnhance™ for horses the most compelling indicate a 25-30% increase in your horse’s release of adult stem cells (that’s about 3-4 million more) and support for a more alkaline (vs. acid) environment. Some may also experience detoxification, a release of toxins that naturally accumulate and are stored in fatty tissues.
HHH: Want more information?
• Vet Stem Inc. 858-748-2004 (lab) Dr. Julie Ryan, Robert Harman, DVM. The first company to introduce adult stem cell technology to the equine industry. Costs range from $1500-$3000 and may be covered by insurance.
• See www.ClinicalTrials.gov to search for adult stem cells to treat certain diseases.
• See www.stemcellresearch.org DO NO HARM The Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics.
• David Nelson email@example.com 303-694-4151
• 1-888-STEMTech (783-6832)
Reuters, April 25, 2007 Horses lead humans in stem cell race.
www.sciencedaily.com Bone Marrow Stem Cells May Cure Eye Disease 5-13-07
http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/health.asp Nat’l Inst. Health resource for stem cell research
foxnews.com Adult Stem Cells Give Hope for Healing. Health News 11-20-06
Family Research Council: Real-World Successes of Adult Stem Cell Treatments 11-1-07
www.timesonline.co.uk Diabetics cured in stem-cell treatment advance 4-11-07
Western Horseman, pp 52-57 May 2007
Shari Frederick, BS, NMD, LE, a nutritional educator, assists horseowners in making healthier, more natural choices in horse care. She is an advocate of natural prevention and support for overall health, healing and stronger immune systems for both humans and animals. Shari is an independent author, international lecturer and self-styled naturalist. Visit Shari’s websites, horserescuefaces.com, happyhorsehavenrescue.com, or check out Shari’s Healthy Horse Hints at holistichorse.com