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. The first thing we need to know about is the 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.
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. Because the stem cells do not have the standard surface markers that can spark an immune response, there is no need to worry about rejection by the host tissue. 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. The xenogenic stem cells come from a donor of another species, one example is 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.
The tissue signals the stem cells to go into an area based on the neural, mechanical and chemical changes in the body. Some examples that can trigger stem cells are inflammation and hypoxia, the stem cells then target the injury. 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 has shown the most successful. 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.
Certainly, the stem cell therapy has a huge potential and it can be applied as a healing treatment for any injuries. Furthermore, systemic stem cell therapy can be, in the future, treat neurological conditions.