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Advantages of the use of the stem cell secretome in the treatment of lesions in horses

Specific proteins secreted by stem cells could be a safer and easier alternative to administer.


To help injured joints and support soft tissues after trauma or injury, a multimodal approach is recommended. In addition to anti-inflammatory medications, therapeutic options include high-quality joint supplements, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, and regenerative therapies such as stem cells and platelet-rich plasma. Scientists have recently pointed out that horses do not need real stem cells to speed healing, only specific proteins secreted by the stem cells' secretome.

Stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy has been available in equine medicine for years. Stem cells stimulate and coordinate the healing process and are most often used for joint, tendon, and ligament injuries. These specialized cells are usually isolated from fat or bone marrow, either from the injured horse or from a donor horse. Several administration routes are possible; however, veterinarians prefer direct injection into the injury or affected joint.

“There are some potential drawbacks to injecting stem cells into injured or traumatized horses. For example, there is a delay between injury and injection due to the time it takes to process stem cells. Additionally, inflammation or infection can develop after injection, especially if stem cells from a donor horse are used, ”noted Catherine Whitehouse, MS, of Kentucky Equine Research.

What are the advantages of using the stem cell secretome?

One way to speed up the treatment process is by using the stem cell secretome. “These protein molecules supposedly have the same functions as stem cells themselves, such as anti-inflammatory and pro-regenerative characteristics. Furthermore, they are less likely to elicit an immune response, thus avoiding adverse reactions, ”Whitehouse added.

Stem cell secretome can be manufactured and stored as a ready-to-use powder that only requires mixing with saline before injection. This prolongs the product's shelf life and avoids the problems associated with cell damage or death during processing, shipping, and administration.

Equine Injuries, Lameness. Kentucky Equine Research Staff

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