Families hear many recommendations from doctors to bank their baby’s cord blood as a potential option for therapy if ever the need should arise. But one medical veterinarian sees value in using banked cord blood stem cells to treat injuries in horses.
Dr. Judith Koenig is a veterinary surgeon within the Department of Clinical Studies at the Ontario Veterinary College Health Sciences Centre. Dr. Koenig is a firm believer in regenerative medicine, and believes cord blood stem cells can help improve or repair injuries in racing horses, as well as reduce the effects of arthritis in horses that primarily live on farms.
The college has collected samples of cord blood from newborn horses, and used the banked cord blood stem cells in controlled injections on two horses to date. The first horse received a cord blood stem cell transplant approximately half a year ago, and the transplant has helped reduce the effects of the injury. The second horse will require a second transplant that is expected to occur in another month.
According to the college, stem cell therapy has been used to help horses in the past. But the sources of those stem cells have been the blood, fat, or bone marrow of horses, which are complicated procedures. However, cord blood stem cells could be collected, processed, and ready for transplant much sooner if the trials prove successful.
Dr. Koenig believes more trials are required before recommending cord blood stem cell therapy as an acceptable practice. But she believes the trials could lead to a new option in regenerative medicine that will help horses live safer and healthier lives.
“These clinical cases are first of all about safety because these cells are not from the patients themselves, but transplanted from another horse. Second, we want to know if the cells make a difference and help the patient heal.”
More details about Dr. Koenig and her work with cord blood are available by following the link here.