Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

If you guys have ever hurt your tendon, you know it can be a long, painful healing process. Current treatments only really address the symptoms, by reducing pain and inflammation, while you wait for your body to heal.

Maybe not surprising, but sport and race horses experience similar tendon injuries to humans, as fast running and jumps can put a lot of strain on their limbs. Shown are examples of injured, or bowed, tendons in a horse leg.

Illustration for article titled Horse stem cell treatment to be tried in humans

Similar to human injuries, traditional treatment of bowed tendons calls for rest and reduction of inflammation, although some researchers began investigating alternative methods. In 2001, veterinarian Douglas Herchel reported that treating ligament injuries in horses with bone marrow extract improved injury recovery. It was later found that the number of stem cells were fairly low in these bone marrow extracts, but later methods using stem cells derived from bone marrow also showed dramatic recovery. A study of 114 racehorses saw those only ~25% of stem cell treated horses re-injured after 3 years, compared to a historical rate of ~66%.

Due to the fact that these injuries are so similar to humans, researchers are starting a trial of stem cell treatments of tendinopathy in people.

As usual, while the success in horses is promising, it does not mean it'll necessarily translate to humans. Still, this is an interesting demonstration that we don't have to always rely on simple model organisms such as mice to find new treatments. The world of veterinary medicine (hi elisethestrange!) is also exploring new treatments for the animals we care for, and some of them may just apply to us as well.

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