What is tendon injury?
Thoroughbred racehorses, sports horses and horses taking part in a wide range of activities often suffer tendon injuries, ranging from a mild strain to a complete rupture.
When these injuries heal, scar tissue forms instead of normal tissue leaving the tendon weaker than previously, leaving a high-rate of re-injury. We believe stem cells can help regenerate healthy tendon tissue, and as a result, lessen the risk of injury reoccurring.
Researching tendon injury
Currently, horses with tendon injury are treated using their own mesenchymal stem cells, those which form muscular and connective tissues. For this, each horse has to have a tissue sample isolated, which results in a delay while the cells are processed and grown to sufficient numbers for injection into the tendon.
Our research is determining whether using embryo-derived stem cells could be a safe and effective alternative to current treatment. The advantage of these stem cells is that they can be grown indefinitely in the laboratory and could provide an “off the shelf” source of cells for treating injuries. Through their use, we could develop new therapies for tendon injuries, allowing more horses to successfully return to work following an injury.