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Researchers in Belgium used a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled experimental trial to evaluate the efficacy of a commercial cartilage induced stem cell product.
This is produced from the blood of a donor horse, primed toward differentiation into cartilage cells, mixed with plasma also from a donor horse then injected into the joint of a horse needing the therapy for the treatment of arthritis.
In this study, arthritis lesions were surgically created in one knee of 12 horses. After 5 weeks, half the horses were randomly assigned to the treatment group while the other half received a saline placebo as a control. For 11 weeks following treatment, the clinical condition of the horses was evaluated daily, lameness was scored weekly and X-rays and synovial fluid samples were evaluated periodically. Following this, the horses were euthanized and joints were examined grossly, microscopically and using biochemical analyses to evaluate cartilage and joint health.
The stem cell treatment effectively improved the lameness outcomes and synovial fluids were more viscous with lower levels of cartilage breakdown products in treated animals compared with controls. There were fewer cartilage wear lines, less joint effusion and less of a “blood shot” appearance to the synovial tissues of the treated horses. Overall the cartilage of the treated group had a healthier appearance and biochemical profile compared with controls. This type of stem cell treatment could be a promising new treatment for osteoarthritis in horses.