Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_94647

Racehorse-tested stem cell therapy to be used against Achilles tendon condition

30 June 2014
Appeared in BioNews 760

A stem cell therapy that is highly successful at keeping race horses in the fast lane is to be trialled in humans for the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy.

In horses, this treatment has been extensively studied and found to restore function to the Achilles tendon and reduce re-injury rates by 50 percent. This will be tested in humans for the first time, in a procedure involving stem cells being taken from the pelvis, grown outside of the body and then implanted into the injured Achilles tendon.

Mr Andy Goldberg, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and lead researcher, based at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and University College London, told the BBC: 'Horses have similar problems to tendon problems found in humans. Their injuries are akin to human injuries. We've been able to solve the problem in horses so the next step is to translate it into humans'.

Achilles tendinopathy is a condition which causes severe pain in the heel and affects 85,000 people in the UK each year. The pain associated with the condition can progress to become chronic, limiting mobility and having a negative impact on quality of life. In the worst-case scenario, the weakened tendon can rupture, requiring surgical intervention and a lengthy recovery.

With the help of this stem cell therapy, Dream Alliance, a race horse who tore a tendon, went on to win the Welsh National. If the technique translates successfully to humans, Mr Goldberg is hoping for comparable results in his patients. Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: 'If things go well, we are hopeful this treatment could have a life changing impact on patients'.

Mr Goldberg's optimism may be justified, because similar stem cell therapy techniques have been used to treat other musculoskeletal conditions such as osteonecrosis (see BioNews 659) and non-union fractures (see (BioNews 578), with tissue being successfully regenerated. However, the number of people involved in these studies is small. The researchers hope that this project will help to evaluate the use of stem cell therapies in musculoskeletal conditions.

Sir Richard Knight, chairman of the UK Stem Cell Foundation who is funding the research, told the Telegraph: '[This study] is an exciting example of taking preclinical work in a natural animal disease model and translating it for human benefit'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Equine stem cell treatment tested on humans
Horse & Country |  26 June 2014
Stem cell treatment for horses to be trialled on humans
BBC News |  21 June 2014
Stem cell treatment used on horses could help human athletes
The Telegraph |  20 June 2014
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
6 June 2012 - by Maren Urner 
A stem cell technique to treat the common bone disease osteonecrosis is being pioneered at Southampton General Hospital in the UK...
6 February 2012 - by Maria Botcharova 
A clinic in California has announced that its doctors are licensed and trained to carry out a stem cell treatment for chronic pain. Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is pursuing a lawsuit against Regenerative Sciences, the company that developed the technique...
4 October 2010 - by Louise Mallon 
A pioneering technique that uses stem cells to rebuild damaged tissue and generate new bone growth has been used by surgeons to treat a woman's broken legs...
6 April 2006 - by BioNews 
A medical team in Australia has announced that it has become the first to implant laboratory-grown stem cells into an orthopaedic patient. The procedure may eventually be used instead of the more complicated and painful bone grafting procedure that is currently commonly used to treat bad bone injuries...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.