treating tendon and ligament injuries
equine stem cell therapy
equine stem cell therapy products
full recovering from horse injuries
Copyright 2012 Equine Partners America / VetCell:  Tendon and Ligament Injuries.
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Equine Partners America, LLC
Frequently Asked Questions
About VetCell & Equine Stem Cell Therapy
How do you know your stem cell therapy works?
We have done extensive research into the StemRegen stem cell therapy that we offer and, as a result, we are confident that our stem cell therapy is the best way to treat an overstrain of the superficial digital flexor tendon

Where do mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC's) come from?
Adult mesenchymal stem cells are taken by biopsy from various tissues about the body.  Cells can then be expanded and used multiple times. Almost every tissue in the body contains MSC's.  The cell source are shipped to RenovoCyte where the cells are isolated, processed, expanded and tested for viability.

Why use Stem Cells?
MSC's are unspecialized cells and have the potential to divide and turn into specialized cell types. Cells from one source can give rise to cell types of many different tissues to serve as a repair system.

How are the cells given to the horse?
All treatments are given intravenously (IV) to your horse.  For details in the implationation procedure, see the detailed Instructions for Implanting Stem Cells on the SM-EQ/SR page.

Are there enough mesenchymal stem cells to be used?
One reason these mesenchymal stem cells are unique is that they can be grown or “expanded” in special cultures to large numbers of functional cells.  This process allows our lab to harvest, grow, test, and cryopreserve (freeze) cells which can be thawed and used when needed. Renovocyte is the only company that also tests for sterility to ensure your cells are safe for use.

What is Autologous and Allogeneic?
Autologous means the donor and recipient animal are the same. Cells are taken from the animal, processed and expanded (replicated) to the appropriate dose then given back to that same animal. Allogeneic means the donor and recipient are genotypically related but are not the same. For example, individuals from the same species are genotypically similar, therefore equine will receive MSC’s from other equine in an allogeneic cell transplant. Recipients do not have to be related to the donor animal and litter mates are not genotypically identical.

What are the benefits of VetCell's StemRegen Treatment?

  • VetCell's StemRegen is currently proven to be the best treatment for overstrain injuries of the SDFT.

  • StemRegen-treated horses have a very low 27% re-injury rate on the treated tendon compared with 57% for conventional treatments.

  • National Hunt racehorses treated using StemRegen have a return to performance rate of over 80% compared with approximately 40% for conventional treatments.

  • StemRegen leads to good quality healing of the tendon with crimped organised collagen fibres and a minimal number of inflammatory cells.

  • StemRegen produces autologous mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow & suspended in bone marrow supernatant which contains a cocktail of anabolic growth factors optimised for tendon regeneration.

  • The mesenchymal stem cells are retained in enclosed lesions for up to 4 months post implantation.

  • StemRegen leads to a normalisation of mechanical, morphological and compositional parameters towards that of uninjured tendons.

For full details of the research that has been carried out in relation to StemRegen, stem cells and equine tendon injuries please click here.

What does VetCell's StemRegen stem cell therapy involve for my horse?

Once your vet has assessed your horse and established that stem cell therapy is the best way to treat the injury he/she will perform a bone marrow aspiration. This is done under standing sedation and involves taking a sample of bone marrow from the horse’s sternum using a specially designed needle. This sample is then sent off to our lab partner, RenovoCyte Laboratories.. The lab separates out the stem cells from the bone marrow sample and culture them to get them to grow in number. Once enough cells have grown (usually around 10 million although more are sometimes needed for larger injuries) they are suspended in bone marrow supernatant – a technique patented by VetCell. The cells are then returned to the vet so that they can be implanted into the site of the injury, using an ultrasound scanner for guidance. This is done using a local anaesthetic and under standing sedation. The horse then spends a day or two at the veterinary hospital before returning home to begin the careful rehabilitation process.

What are the benefits of  the E-PET System?

  • E-PET is a sterile filtration system for preparing platelet concentrate from whole blood

  • It is a non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical patient side system

  • Blood taken from the patient is ready for re-injection within 30 minutes

  • E-PET gives a seven fold concentration of platelets with minimal activation but maximal anabolic growth factor availability

  • It acts as a wound healing fluid

  • It is useful for the treatment of ligament and other soft tissue injuries

  • E-PET is also currently under testing for use in osteoarthritis and joint disease

  • Supplied by Pall Corporation, USA and distributed by VetCell

I've heard that shock wave therapy has been used on the tendon after stem cell implantation, does this help?

VetCell advises very strongly against the use of shock wave therapy after stem cell implantation. It will severely damage the stem cells that you have implanted and will negate the positive effect they would otherwise have. Please do not use shock wave therapy after VetCell's StemRegen treatment!

I thought that stem cell therapy was controversial for ethical reasons so should I be worried about that?

Controversial stem cell therapies are those that involve embryonic stem cells. VetCell's StemRegen stem cell therapy does NOT use embryonic stem cells. Our technique involves taking bone marrow from the horse needing treatment, splitting out the stem cells and culturing them in the lab. This means the stem cells are autologous (belonging to the animal that they are going to be implanted into) and therefore there are no embryos involved in any stage of the process.

Stem cells can come from adipose tissue or bone marrow. Which is better?

It has been shown that stem cells cultured from bone marrow have several advantages over adipose derived cells:

  • There are higher numbers of stem cells found in bone marrow, meaning extraction is more likely to be successful and culture over the same time period will result in larger numbers of cells. Our experience has shown that a minimum of 10 million cells is necessary for effective treatment.

  • Adipose derived stem cells have an innate bias and are more likely to become adipose cells than any other kind of tissue (Im, G.I. et al. (2005); Park, J. et al. (2006). VetCell’s research includes post-mortems to show that tendons are more normalised than untreated tendons, with a proper crimp pattern and significant tenocyte regeneration.

  • Harvest of adipose (due to the large amount required to acquire sufficient stem cells) is a highly invasive procedure resulting in high donor site morbidity. Not only is this scarring detrimental for resale of high value horses but can be avoided completely in a bone marrow harvest from the sternum or tuba coxa.

  • Lastly, there is no peer reviewed literature available to show the effectiveness of adipose derived stem cells.  VetCell customers benefit from the knowledge of using an evidence-based treatment.

Can I freeze left over E-PET concentrate to use at a later date on the same horse?

Yes. E-PET can be frozen if you have too much to put into the injury in one go. It can then be thawed and used in the same injury at a later date or in another injury in the same horse. It must be frozen within two hours of harvesting and then used within one month. It must be used as soon as it's thawed because otherwise the platelets will lyse (break open). The E-PET concentrate must NOT be used in another horse.

Can the E-PET system be used more than once?

No. The E-PET system is designed to be used only once and only to produce E-PET concentrate for one horse. It must not be used to treat more than one horse as the system is autologous. If you use E-PET on a regular basis there are discounts for buying more than one at a time and for buying online.