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. To define stem cell, it is an undifferentiated cell that can renew itself again and also 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. The analogenic stem cells are from a donor of the same species. The fact that stem cells do not have the standard surface markers that can elicit immune response, no need to fear about the host tissue rejecting it. When we say autologous stem cells, it refer to those cells that obtained 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.
How Do Stem Cells Function?
The most common function of stem cells is their ability to differentiate into different tissues, but they also possess other abilities that can be useful for healing. Stem cells have the ability to recruit other local and systemic stem cells help focus on fixing damaged tissue.
The tissue signals the stem cells to go into an area based on the neural, mechanical and chemical changes in the body. Inflammation and hypoxia, which is the lack of oxygen, are strong triggers for stem cells to target a damage. 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. 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 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 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. Furthermore, systemic stem cell therapy can be, in the future, treat neurological conditions.