March 21, 2011
[caption id="attachment_5342" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Newborn Appaloosa foal"][/caption]When it comes to recognizing and accepting the benefits of adult stem cell treatments, veterinary science is usually far ahead of human medical science. But one area where human patients have had the advantage is with umbilical cord blood, a rich source of adult stem cells. As the realization dawns that adult stem cells are already treating a wide variety of diseases, banking of cord blood has increased. Canada has announced a national cord blood bank, and various states, regions, and cities have started their own cord blood banks, e.g., in Maryland, in addition to numerous private (family) cord blood banks.
Now horse owners will have the opportunity to store the umbilical cord blood from newborn foals, thanks to a program started at the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The program provides kits for a horse owner or veterinarian to collect umbilical cord tissue and send to the UC-Davis lab for processing and storage. When the adult stem cells are needed for treatment, they can be thawed, expanded in numbers, and ready for injection within two weeks.
Dr. Sean Owens, medical director of the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, said:
The advantage is that, unlike collecting stem cells derived from bone marrow or fat, umbilical cord banking doesnt require the horse to undergo a traumatic or invasive procedure
As anyone who has watched for a mare to foal knows, catching the mare in the act of the quick foaling event requires diligence. But for those who want to bank the foal's cord blood, there's now an added incentive to stay awake and watchful.