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. So, a stem cell is defined as an undifferentiated cell that can return to itself and develop into at least three different types of tissues.
Types of Stem Cells
There are various categories of stem cells, including allogenic, autologous, and xenogenic. Allogenic stem cells are those that came from a donor of a similar 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 mean that it came from a similar animal. These type of cells are good for transplanting since there is no problem about them being rejected. Xenogenic stem cells are those that derived from a donor of another species, for instance a pig. Despite that is it expected that these type of cells are to be rejected when injected into another species’ body, there are some cases in which they survive because they have a certain unique characteristics.
How Do Stem Cells Function?
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. They can help recruit other systemic and local stem cells to focus on repairing damaged tissues.
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 reason why only small injections of stem cells are used. Injecting a large number of stem cells into an injured are can intervene with healing, because some of the injected cells die and must be removed during the process of healing.
Applying Stem Cell Therapy in Horses
The repair of ligament injuries in horses has shown the most successful. Injuries to the ligaments in the lower leg of a horse are very difficult to heal. The stem cells acquired from the own fat of the injured horse can be injected in the damaged area to start the healing with less scarring.
Stem cell therapy proved to have a huge potential and can used to treat injuries of organ damage. Additionally, systemic stem cell therapy has the potential to be use in treating neurological conditions.