Assessing a Stem Cell Therapy for Tendonitis and Desmitis in Horses

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For questions and more information about this study, please contact the team using the information below.
Study coordinator
Name - Dr. Larry Galuppo
Email -
Phone - (530) 752-1393

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"Help us find a treatment for tendonitis and desmitis in horses using stem cells!"
Animal: Horses & Ponies
Keywords: tendonitis, desmitis, stem cells, stem cell therapy, equine, horse, MSC
Type: Stem Cell Study
120 Participants
Background and purpose
Tendon and ligament injuries are a common cause of lameness in horses frequently associated with high expenses and failure to return to a previous level of performance. Conventional treatment regimens have various outcomes and mostly result in the formation of non-elastic scar tissue which plays a major role in the high incidence of recurrence. Scar tissue cannot be as functional as tendon and ligament tissue and the goal for an efficacious treatment is therefore the development of methods of regenerating the tissue and lessening the amount of scar tissue formation. The purpose of this study is to assess mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy as a potential treatment for tendonitis and desmitis. The clinical use of stem cells is still in its early stages, and determination of the ideal dose to administer these cells is worth further investigation.
What happens in this study

If you agree to let your horse participate in this study, the following will happen:

  • A brief lameness exam
  • An ultrasound exam or an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan before and after completion of the injections based on the location of the lesion
  • Ultrasound-guided injection of either autologous or allogenic stem cells

Allogenic MSCs will be:

  • Collected from bone marrow obtained from donor horses between 1-3 years of age
  • Injected once at either a high or low dose into the lesion while under sedation
  • Horses need to be re-evaluated at 60 and 90 days post-injection

Autologous MSCs will be:

  • Collected from fat (adipose) tissue if your horse is older than 15 years or bone marrow if your horse is younger than 15 years
  • Injected 3 times (2-4 weeks apart) at either a high or low dose of stem cells while under sedation

Both types of stem cell injections may be accompanied by an additional intra-arterial stem cell injection may be necessary if there is increase in lameness and signs of worsening tendonitis or desmitis during the rehabilitation process.

Depending on the degree and stage of the injury, a UC Davis veterinarian will either request that you to bring your horse to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) or a UC Davis veterinarian from the research team will go to your location and administer the stem cells treatment.

Pet owner responsibilities

If you allow your horse to participate in this study, you will be responsible for covering all charges related to stem cell therapy and follow-up, bringing your horse to the clinic or agreed upon location for the injections, and informing the UC Davis researchers if your horse of any adverse effects for the 10 days following each injection.

Participation requirements

We are looking for horses diagnosed with an injury involving a tendon or ligament. Please have your veterinarian contact Dr. Galuppo to see if your horse will qualify.

Benefits and risks of participating
Results from this study may help to the determine an ideal route of administration and dose of MSCs in horses suffering from tendon or ligament lesions.
Study duration and period
Three treatments with a 2 to 4 week treatment interval will be performed followed by reevaluations every 60 – 90 days for up to 12 months.
Recruitment period
From April 14, 2016
UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
1 Garrod Drive
Large Animal Clinic - Equine Surgery and Lameness
Davis, CA 95616
Dr. Larry Galuppo

Have any questions or want to learn more? Leave your contact details below and the research team will reach out to you.


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