Regenerative Medicine Center

The Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) in Prince Edward Island, Canada, recently received funding from a new provincial research and development program to establish a center of excellence for equine bone, tendon, and ligament repair. This will not only allow continuing research into cell-based tissue therapy, but also provide treatment for patients of the college's veterinary teaching hospital.

The project is one of 10 chosen from various sectors that will share more than $587,000 to turn research innovations into viable products and services. It will expand on the work of lead researcher Laurie McDuffee, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, associate professor in the department of health management, whose investigations have primarily focused on cellular therapy in horse and human bone healing. This funding will allow work on "regenerative medicine" for tendons and ligaments.

"We are using what we refer to as adult stem cells in regenerating these tissues, which are commonly injured in horses," said McDuffee. "This type of regenerative medicine in horses is already being offered in the U.S. and England, and I would like to be able to offer this 'cutting edge' treatment option to our clients.

"For instance, if a horse had a bowed tendon, we could harvest some bone marrow from the sternum--a minimally invasive procedure--take it into the laboratory, separate out the cells that we think are going to be stem cells, and grow them to high numbers," explained McDuffee

The cells are prepared for re-implantation and injected into the site of the injury. Once transplanted, the stem cells contribute to regeneration of normal tendon tissue in the damaged area. While normal cells at the injured site tend to repair tissue with scar formation, "stem cells are thought to promote healthy healing of the tissue," she added.
The cell-based therapy will be an adjunct to typical treatments offered by AVC.

McDuffee's research, funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research, has focused on different donor tissues and the best methods for isolating bone cells and expanding them. Transplantations have not yet taken place.

About the Author

Nicole Kitchener

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More