New stem cell lab for horses opens at UC-Davis

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A state-of-the art facility that will process, culture, and store stem cells to treat injuries in horses opened May 18 at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

The Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital will provide stem cell collection kits to private practitioners, according to a UC-Davis press release. That way, they can harvest stem cells from their equine patients and safely ship the cells to the UC-Davis laboratory for processing or storage. Processed stem cell then will be returned so that the veterinarians can treat their patients.

Dr. Sean D. Owens, director of the new stem cell laboratory, said, "We can use pharmacological medicine to alleviate the pain associated with orthopedic injuries in horses, but only with biological medicine such as stem cell therapy can we actually repair the damage that has already been done."

The new laboratory is supported by funding from the veterinary school and the Center for Equine Health. It is one of only four such university-based veterinary stem cell laboratories in the U.S. and Canada, according to the press release. Similar laboratories—those that provide research and stem cell therapy services for equine patients—are located at the veterinary colleges at Cornell University and Kansas State University and the University of Guelph in Canada.

The UC-Davis veterinary school's Center for Equine Health also is coordinating a five-year collaborative research study, now in its second year, on the use of stem cells in horses. Eleven veterinary researchers are working to develop methods for collecting, processing, storing, and administering stem cells to repair bone, tendon, and ligament injuries. The team's early findings indicate that stem cell treatments may reduce the recurrence of certain tendon and ligament injuries and lessen the progression of arthritis associated with traumatic joint diseases in horses.

This veterinary team, under the direction of professor and equine surgeon Dr. Larry D. Galuppo, also has established a working partnership with the UC-Davis Health System's Stem Cell Program in human medicine.

The Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the University of London Royal Veterinary College also have similar research programs, but services are provided through outside companies.

For more information about the new UC-Davis stem cell laboratory, visit