Stem cells and stem cell therapy have been gaining a lot of attention recently, 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.
Different 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. These type of cells can be utilized without fearing about rejection by the host tissue since stem cells do not have the standard surface markers that can trigger immune response. 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. Meanwhile, xenogenic stem cells refer to those that came from a donor of another species, for example a pig. Although it is likely that these cells are to be rejected when injected into the body of another species, in some cases, they can still survive 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. They can help recruit other systemic and local stem cells to focus on repairing damaged tissues.
Stem cells are triggered to move into an area by signals coming from the tissue based on mechanical, chemical and neural changes. Inflammation and hypoxia, which is the lack of oxygen, are strong triggers for stem cells to target a damage. Only about half of the new tissues formed are because of the stem cells, and the rest are done by those recruited cells. This is why only a small amount of stem cells is injected. If you inject a larger number of stem cells, it can intervene with the healing process.
Using Stem Cell Therapy in Horses
The repair of ligament injuries in horses show the most promising. It is quite difficult to heal the ligament injuries in a lower leg of a horse. The stem cells from the own fat of the injured horse can be used to stimulate the healing and start the process 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.