Horses set to gain health benefits from stem cell advance

Mar 04, 2014

Horses suffering from neurological conditions similar to those that affect humans could be helped by a breakthrough from stem cell scientists.

Researchers who are the first to create working from horse say the advance may pave the way for cell therapies that target conditions similar to .

The research could also benefit horses affected by grass sickness, a neurological condition that affects around 600 horses a year in the UK.

Little is known about the disease, which causes nerve damage throughout the body. It is untreatable and animals with the most severe form usually die or have to be put down.

The advance by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute will provide a powerful tool for those studying horse diseases. It will also help scientists to test new drugs and treatments.

The researchers took from a young horse and turned them into stem cells using a technique that was originally developed for . The reprogrammed cells are pluripotent, which means they can be induced to become any type of cell in the body.

The team used them to create nerve cells in the laboratory and tested whether they were functional by showing that they could transmit nerve signals in a test tube.

Horse stem cells have been produced in the laboratory before but this is the first time that scientists have created working cells of a specific type from them.

The study is published in the journal Stem Cells and Development.

Vets around the world are already using to treat horses for other types of conditions. The efficacy of these treatments has not been completely proven and they use , which are harder to maintain and are more restricted in the types of cells that they can become. The approach is mostly used to treat tendon, ligament and joint problems.

Dr Xavier Donadeu from the Roslin Institute, an author of the study, said: "Stem cells hold huge therapeutic potential both for people and animals. Our research is an important step towards realising that potential for horses and provides an opportunity to validate stem-cell based therapies before clinical studies in humans."

Explore further: New stem cell research removes reliance on human and animal cells

More information: R. Sharma et al. Generation of functional neurons from feeder-free, keratinocyte-derived equine induced pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cells and Development, 18 February 2014. online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/… 0.1089/scd.2013.0565

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stem cells could heal equine tendon injuries

Nov 01, 2012

Tendon injuries affect athletic horses at all levels. Researchers from the University of Connecticut are studying the use of stem cells in treating equine tendon injuries. Their findings were published Oct. 16 in the Journal of ...

Important step towards stem cell-based treatment for stroke

Oct 25, 2013

Brain infarction or stroke is caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain, which leads to interruption of blood flow and shortage of oxygen. Now a reserach group at Lund University, Sweden, has taken an important ...

Why stem cells need to stick with their friends

Nov 07, 2013

Scientists at University of Copenhagen and University of Edinburgh have identified a core set of functionally relevant factors which regulates embryonic stem cells' ability for self-renewal. A key aspect is the protein Oct4 ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover new strategy germs use to invade cells

19 hours ago

The hospital germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa wraps itself into the membrane of human cells: A team led by Dr. Thorsten Eierhoff and Junior Professor Dr. Winfried Römer from the Institute of Biology II, members of the Cluster ...

Progress in the fight against harmful fungi

20 hours ago

A group of researchers at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories has created one of the three world's largest gene libraries for the Candida glabrata yeast, which is harmful to humans. Molecular analysis of the Candida ...

How steroid hormones enable plants to grow

Aug 19, 2014

Plants can adapt extremely quickly to changes in their environment. Hormones, chemical messengers that are activated in direct response to light and temperature stimuli help them achieve this. Plant steroid ...

Surviving the attack of killer microbes

Aug 19, 2014

The ability to find food and avoid predation dictates whether most organisms live to spread their genes to the next generation or die trying. But for some species of microbe, a unique virus changes the rules ...

Histones and the mystery of cell proliferation

Aug 19, 2014

Before cells divide, they create so much genetic material that it must be wound onto spools before the two new cells can split apart. These spools are actually proteins called histones, and they must multiply ...

User comments : 0