Stem cell therapy is a breakthrough treatment that has the potential to allow the body to heal without the production of scar tissue. Stem cells allow the body to regenerate itself with its own cells. These stem cells are harvested from your horse’s own bone marrow. The cells produce a range of bioactive proteins including growth factors and other components to help repair the damaged tissue. Commercial stem-cell treatments available for horses are derived from the horse’s own adult mesenchymal stem cells which can differentiate into bone, cartilage, fat and fibrous connective tissue.
The most common use of stem cells is to treat soft tissue injuries. Tendons and ligaments are important supportive structures which attach muscle-to-bone and bone-to-bone respectively. Tendons and ligaments are both made up of an organized network of dense connective tissue composed of elastic collagen. They both heal slowly and tend to form disorganized scar tissue which leaves your horse prone to reinjury. When stem cells are used early after an injury, they can promote more aligned fibers in the tendons or ligaments and better, stronger healing process.