Use of Stem Cells for Equine Wounds

Research at Cornell centers around using mesenchymal stromal cells for wound healing.

Mesenchymal stromal cells are being obtained from blood in research on wound healing at Cornell. iStock/Pablo_K

An interesting research endeavor is underway, led by Rebecca Harman, MS, and her team at the Van de Walle Lab at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. 

Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have been reported to promote healing by playing a role in inhibiting bacterial growth within skin wounds as well as attracting immune cells to the injury [Bussche, L.; Harman, R.M.; Syracuse, B.A. et al. Stem Cell Res Ther (2015) 6: 66]. Other studies report the role of MSCs in promoting angiogenesis.

Rather than obtaining MSC from an invasive bone marrow procedure, MSCs are being isolated from blood. Instead of applying the mesenchymal cells themselves to a wound, the researchers are using factors, such as antimicrobial peptides secreted by MSC. It is thought that this will minimize host immune responses to therapy.

The antimicrobial peptides are able to withstand extended freezing or drying into a powder to enable long-term storage options. The plan is to try this out in live Icelandic horses in conjunction with Bettina Wagner, DVM, chair of the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences at Cornell’s veterinary college.

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