Equine Stem Cell Technique to be Trialled in Human Medicine
News Apr 21, 2009
A pioneering equine stem cell technique, which is used to successfully return injured horses to top levels of performance, is to be trialled in human medicine.
The trials will be conducted by MedCell Bioscience Ltd under the guidance of Dr David Glover, former medical director of Cambridge Antibody Technologies, Professor Nicola Maffulli, one of the most pre-eminent sports medicine and orthopaedic consultants in the UK and Roger Smith, Professor of Equine Orthopaedics at The Royal Veterinary College.
The therapeutic approach implants millions of the patient’s own stem cells, growth factors, and an autologous scaffold directly into the injured tendon or ligament. More than 1500 horses have been treated to date and follow-up data suggests a 50% reduction in re-injury over a three year period, compared to conventionally treated horses.
Such levels of success have generated considerable interest from the human sector. It is anticipated that the initial pilot study, which is planned to start within 12 months, will focus on the treatment of Achilles tendinopathies. This will mark the first time that this type of stem cell treatment has ever been used for the repair of human tendon injuries. The pilot study is expected to be based at a single UK centre of orthopaedic excellence with the larger confirmatory study, planned for 2011, being a multi-centre European trial.
Professor Nicola Maffulli said: “The move from clinical veterinary to human medicine is inspiring and unusual; we normally see the translation happening the other way around. I am very excited to be involved in the human studies and hope that the results will herald a new era in the treatment of musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries. At present the management of human tendinopathy is more an art than a science but this approach could potentially reverse that situation.”