The cost and preparation of clinical trials involving human subjects are hurdles that must be overcome by private stem cell research companies in the pre-clinical stage. Because of these associated difficulties, researchers attempt to learn what they can from animal trials, including real-world veterinary stem cell cures for large animals.
Stem cell research has resulted in therapeutic applications that are working on dogs and horses in particular. In a post we'll be doing in the near future we'll talk about two private stem cell companies, one specializing in adipose (fat) stem cells, the other in bone marrow, that have made a significant impact on the world of veterinary medicine. A lot of knowledgeable stem cell stake holders will be watching the latest UC Davis investment in the future of large animal veterinary medicine. So, exactly what is UC Davis doing?
The University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has opened a new Regenerative Medicine Laboratory which will provide a state-of-the art facility for processing, culturing and storing stem cells collected from the horse’s own blood or bone marrow (UC Davis uses equipment provided by Thermogenesis, one of our Sector Companies). It is one of only four such university-based veterinary stem cell labs in the nation, providing services to clients and referring veterinarians.
In addition to processing, culturing and storing stem cells from equine patients so they can be used to treat injuries the laboratory will provide stem cell collection kits to private veterinarians so that they can harvest stem cells from their equine patients and return the cells to the UC Davis lab for processing or storage. Processed stem cells then will be returned so that the veterinarians can treat their patients. Some horses also will be referred to the teaching hospital for stem cell treatments.
“We are excited to be able to offer this new clinical service to our clients for their horses as a complement to our stem-cell research program,” said Bennie Osburn, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. “Stem cell science is leading us into a new era in human and veterinary medicine.”
In recent years, scientists have made significant advances in using stem cells to treat horses suffering from diseases including colic and neuromuscular degeneration, as well as burns and other injuries. Horses have been one of the first species to benefit from veterinary stem cell therapy because they are prone to many of the injuries that can be successfully treated with such therapy.
“The marvelous thing about stem cell therapy is that it holds the promise of a cure,” said Sean Owens, a veterinary professor and director of the new Regenerative Medicine Laboratory. “We can use pharmacological medicine to alleviate the pain associated with orthopedic injuries in horses, but only with biological medicine such as stem cell therapy can we actually repair the damage that has already been done.”
The research-driven laboratory is expected to yield new knowledge that also will benefit other animal species. Perhaps even we humans.