While researchers have not yet completed any formal studies of stem cells and laminitis, both Raul Bras, DVM, CJF, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital's podiatry department, and John Peroni, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, of the University of Georgia's College of Veterinary Medicine, have clinical experience using stem cells for laminitis cases, and they presented at the 2012 International Equine Conference of the Equine Limb--Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics, held Nov. 2-3 in Monterey, Calif.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are multipotent stromal (connective tissue) cells that can differentiate into many types of cells, including those that make up bone, cartilage, and fat. Research shows that stem cell therapy helps improve the quality of healing in orthopedic (bone) lesions.
"MSC therapy is an attractive treatment modality (for laminitis) because of its potential to positively influence tissue repair," Bras said. The hope is that it would also help repair laminar damage and stabilize the coffin bone within the hoof capsule.
In addition to the possibility of healing tissues, studies show that stem cell treatment has an anti-inflammatory effect, which might offer an additional benefit to the laminitic horse.