Feb. 12, 2010
Adult stem cells continue to show success after success at improving the health of patients, even though many still haven't heard the good news. But while many physicians and scientists (and politicians) ignore the tangible benefits of adult stem cells, veterinarians have pushed ahead. The latest story is that of the over-$1-million-winning horse Thorn Song.
The horse had been severely injured in his final start at Del Mar last summer and had an almost zero chance at survival after developing laminitis. Laminitis is a disease of the hoof that is extremely painful and often fatal for horses; it is the disease that led to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro being euthanized.
Dr. Doug Herthel is the vet who founded Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center and treated Thorn Song. Alamo Pintado was the first private equine practice in the United States to open an onsite adult stem cell laboratory; they have used the procedure successfully to treat hundreds of horses with joint, tendon, and ligament injuries. However, only a few horses have been treated for laminitis with adult stem cells. According to Dr. Herthel:
I thought there would still be a less than 10% chance for him even if we tried stem cell. But within 48 hours we saw a turnaround. There was a dramatic decrease in pain and swelling, and within two weeks we started seeing amazing hoof growth. We were blown away. It went beyond our expectations. It may be the most exciting thing I have ever seen. Technology is moving forward.