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Healing equine injuries with help from stem cells

Middleburg AREC; horses / mare and foalWhen a horse has a tendon or ligament injury, the results can be career-ending. A researcher at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine is searching for the best way to use stem cells derived from fat to stimulate the natural repair mechanisms in horses with these types of injuries.

“Stem cells can be used for any type of tissue repair, but my work specifically deals with tendons and ligaments,” explained Dr. Linda Dahlgren, associate professor of large animal surgery in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences. “We use stem cells from adipose, or fat, tissue because it is readily available in any species, it is easy to harvest, and, when cultured, it expands faster than cells derived from bone marrow.”

Stem cells, unspecialized cells that are part of the body’s repair system, are capable of reforming damaged tissues. Regenerative medicine researchers like Dahlgren can harvest stem cells from a horse’s healthy cells and inject them directly into damaged tissues, and they have more than one way of doing this.

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