There have been a lot of news coverage about stem cells and stem cell therapy, some of it are controversial. However, it is still important to understand about stem cell in general and the several approaches to stem cell therapy. Before we proceed to stem cell therapy, we must first understand stem cell itself. Firstly, stem cell is an undifferentiated cell which has the ability to renew itself and also develop into a tissue with at least three different types.
Types of Stem Cells
There are various categories of stem cells, including allogenic, autologous, and xenogenic. Analogenic stem cells refer to those that came from a donor of the same species. Because the stem cells do not have the standard surface markers that can spark an immune response, there is no need to worry about rejection by the host tissue. Autologous stem cells are those that came from the same animal. These type of cells are good for transplanting since there is no problem about them being rejected. The xenogenic stem cells come from a donor of another species, one example is a pig. Although it is likely that these cells are to be rejected when injected into the body of another species, in some cases, they can still survive because of their unique characteristics.
What are the Functions of the Stem Cells?
The most popularly cited function of stem cells is their ability to differentiate into different tissues, but they have other abilities that are very helpful for healing. Stem cells have the ability to recruit other local and systemic stem cells help focus on fixing damaged tissue.
The tissue signals the stem cells to go into an area based on the neural, mechanical and chemical changes in the body. Some examples that can trigger stem cells are inflammation and hypoxia, the stem cells then target the injury. The stem cells only account for less half of the new tissue formed and the rest are done by the cells recruited. This is the very reason why only a tiny injection of stem cells is needed. It can interfere the healing process if you inject a larger amount of stem cells since some of it will die and must be removed during the healing process.
Using Stem Cell Therapy in Horses
Probably the most promising use of stem cell therapy is in the repair of injuries in the ligament of the horses. It is quite difficult to heal the ligament injuries in a lower leg of a horse. The stem cells from the own fat of the injured horse can be immediately injected in the area of ligament injury to trigger the healing with less scarring.
Certainly, the stem cell therapy has a huge potential and it can be applied as a healing treatment for any injuries. Furthermore, systemic stem cell therapy can be, in the future, treat neurological conditions.