We have a reasonable number of patients who use stem cell therapies in their athletic horses and find us because they want the same therapies for themselves. Horse stem cell research has been very positive and the use of stem cells in horses has not been held up by excessive and unneeded regulation, so the field has expanded rapidly simply based on the fact that it’s low risk (from the same horse), seems to work, and there’s a need for a less invasive way to treat horses. My veterinarian friends and patients are often amused by our human medical system and how business and insurance interests drive everything from the science to the decision making. In their world, the market determines the therapies. An owner will pay for new technology that works and is less expensive and invasive than other options and won’t pay for care that doesn’t work, is too invasive, or too expensive. As a result, it’s not surprising that yet another study was published this week showing that stem cells helped athletic horses get back to competition. In this study, 113 horses with a type of recurrent and hard to treat tendonopathy were injected with their own stem cells and as a result:
- 98.2% returned to racing; and
- The reinjury rate was 25.7% in National Hunt
These results are roughly consistent with the what would be expected with recurrent human tendinopathies based on our clinical experience. They are also consistent with recent research showing that in horses, micro fracture with stem cells worked better than micro fracture alone.