Researchers are fine-tuning the use of adult stem cells to treat horse injuries. Ben Gruber reports.
INTRO: STORY: Bomaneer thrives on competition. But now the 10-year-old Dutch warmblood's dreams of dressage glory are in limbo. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ELIZABETH THIERIOT, OWNER OF BONAMEER DG, SAYING: "We think he may have gotten his hoof stuck in a fence and pulling it out may have sustained the injury." The injury is a meniscus tear - and it could mean Bonameer's competition days are over. But both his owner and his doctor think Bonameer's chances of a full recovery are pretty good - thanks in part to a stem cell therapy treatment. Two weeks ago mesenchymal stem cells were drawn out of Bonameer's bone marrow and then cultured in a lab. These types of adult stem cells have the ability to rapidly divide and generate tissue cells….. and that is what doctors hope will happen when they are injected back into the location of Bonameer's injury. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. LARRY GALUPPO, PROFESSOR AND CHIEF OF EQUINE SURGERY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS: "So the hope is that the cells will go into that environment wherever the injury is and whatever that environment dictates, if there are dying cells, it will help rescue those. If there is damaged meniscus, it will help generate that. So based on the environment and the function, what's going on in that structure, whether it be a joint tendon or ligament those cells will help heal that. Ultimately that's the goal, to restore function." Guided by an ultrasound scan - the stem cells are injected into Bonameer. The results of the treatment will take time. And even if Bonameer doesn't heal completely, Hess still playing an important role towards figuring out what the future of stem cell therapy will be for horses. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. LARRY GALUPPO, PROFESSOR AND CHIEF OF EQUINE SURGERY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS: "We're still in that clinical trial phase where we are still learning about what is the right dose, how many times we should treat, what injury respond best. So we are just in the beginning in trying to figure out what are the benefits of stem cell therapy." Elizabeth Thieriot thinks Bonameer will heal and she is willing to give him as much time as he needs. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ELIZABETH THIERIOT, OWNER OF BONAMEER DG, SAYING: "Our bond is more than just he is my competition horse. Its a life long journey for both of us." …A journey that will hopefully see Elizabeth and Bonameer back in competition soon.