Ever wondered what happens to horses when they severely damage their tendons with what seem to be career-ending injuries? Let us introduce MedCell Bioscience who have been helping horses get back on their feet following the regrowing of their tendons with one of the world's first stem-cell technologies.
Of course they can't tell us which horses they have treated due to patient confidentiality, but three of them did run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last year. Once a horse has a tendon injury it is one of the things that is most likely to hamper their future career - while tendons repair, they never quite go back to their original condition. MedCell have found a way of regenerating rather than repairing tendons, recreating perfect healthy tissue which allows the horse to continue at their previous peak levels. Prior to this innovative science, a horse having suffered a tendon injury and getting back to the racecourse and staying injury free for three years would have had a prognosis of 24% whereas following this treatment the horses prognosis is up to 78%.VetCell, a trading company of MedCell Bioscience Ltd, is the leading provider of stem cell technology to the world of animal health. VetCell was formed in partnership with the Royal Veterinary College and the Institute of Orthopaedic and Musculoskeletal Science to develop the veterinary use of stem cell technologies. It was Professor Roger Smith, an equine orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal Veterinary College in London that made the discovery following experimentation with the body's own stem cells. The treatment of tendon and ligament injury has been so successful that it is now available to veterinary surgeons in the UK and internationally. VetCell have also developed a simple method for separating and storing stem cells from the umbilical cord of foals. The company hopes that they can expand these treatments to provide a new range of therapeutic options in cats, dogs, horses and other domestic species.While the treatment is doing wonders in the world of horseracing, it is really only the beginning for MedCell, who aim to transfer the technique to humans, at which point, it has been speculated, professional sport will never be the same again. Sportspeople with tendon injuries have already been in touch with Greg McGarrell, who owns MedCell, in order to offer themselves as test cases for the pioneering treatment and of course UK Sport would absolutely love the technology to be available in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. While it all sounds like something that could only happen way off in the future, it is looking likely that it could be ready for human application in as little as twelve months time - the only thing lacking at the moment, as is quite often the case for scientific development, is the funding to go ahead with the clinical trials. So this year when watching both the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National be aware that some of the horses competing may have been on their last legs not long before the intervention of McGarrell and his team - we have a lot to be grateful to them for!
Aldaniti was the injured horse that recovered to win the Grand National in 1981 with cancer survivor Bob Champion in the saddle. Horses can recover and run successfully after serious injury, Red Rum won three Grand Nationals after being treated for a damaging foot injury.