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.
The Various Types of Stem Cells
There are a lot of categories of stem cells, and this include allogenic, autologous, and xenogenic. The analogenic stem cells are 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. Xenogenic stem cells are those that derived from a donor of another species, for instance a pig. One can expect that these type of cells are most likely to be rejected, however, there are cases when they survive in the body of another species 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.
Stem cells are triggered to move into an area by signals coming from the tissue based on mechanical, chemical and neural changes. 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.
Stem Cell Therapy in Horses
The repair of ligament injuries in horses show the most promising. Injuries to the ligaments in the lower leg of a horse are very difficult to heal. 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.
Stem cell therapy proved to have a huge potential and can used to treat injuries of organ damage. Moreover, systemic stem cell therapy shows promise in treating neurological conditions.