Studies advance regenerative therapies for equine patients

September 24, 2018

Researchers at the University of Georgia and Kansas State University have implemented new ways of using the therapy to treat horses.

Photo courtesy of Morris Animal Foundation.

Researchers at the University of Georgia have found that a novel stem cell culture medium works as well as the traditional culture medium and may improve outcomes in equine patients, according to a release from Morris Animal Foundation, the organization that funded the study. Platelet lysate was used as a culture medium with a goal of generating more immunologically compatible stem cells. The researchers' findings were published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy.

“Many laboratories use fetal bovine serum (FBS) for the culture of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) since it is a great source of growth factors and nutrients,” says John Peroni, DVM, MS, DACVS, lead researcher on the project, in the release. “However, MSCs expanded in FBS can sometimes trigger unwanted immune responses in patients, essentially killing off the product intended to promote healing.”

Using growth factors derived from the species being treated, in this case horses, would allow veterinarians to better evaluate the clinical outcomes of MSCs by avoiding adverse reactions related to using FBS, Peroni says.

“While veterinarians have been using stem cell therapies to treat equine and small animal patients for more than a decade, many questions remain,” says Kelly Diehl, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM), senior scientific and communications advisor at Morris Animal Foundation. “One concern is how to best improve treatment success by making sure the immune system doesn't destroy the introduced cells nullifying the treatment.

“Dr. Peroni and his team may have found a viable solution using platelet lysate derived from horses as the culture medium to avoid this potential problem and improve stem-cell based treatments for horses,” Dr. Diehl continues.

The University of Georgia team successfully produced platelet lysate from donor horses and used it as the sole media supplement for the culture expansion of equine bone marrow-derived MSCs, according to the release. The platelet lysate was not found to alter the appearance or function of equine stem cells or their ability to interact with other cell types, especially those found at injury sites, which are commonly the target for regenerative therapy.

The next step is to make sure MSCs developed in lysate function appropriately in a preclinical setting, the release states.

At Kansas State University, regenerative therapy-including platelet-rich plasma and animal stem cell therapies for equine patients-is a new offering, a university release states. K-State's Veterinary Health Center has partnered with Enso Discoveries, a regenerative medicine company that is also based in Manhattan, Kansas. Stem cells collected from patients at the Veterinary Health Center can be processed at Enso and used with the patient in the same day. The company's protocols were developed in collaboration with Chanran Ganta, BVSc, PhD, DACVP, a stem cell researcher and veterinary pathologist at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Dylan Lutter, DVM, MS, DACVS-LA, a clinical assistant professor and equine surgeon at the Veterinary Health Center, and Dr. Ganta will soon be starting a project to study the effects of a novel platelet product and animal stem cells on wound healing in horses, according to the release. The project will use a bedside kit developed by Enso to produce platelet-rich product from the patient's blood. Another kit developed by Enso is already in use by Dr. Lutter and other surgeons to generate platelet-rich plasma.