Equine Osteoarthritis receives strong support

Equine Guelph NEWS by Everything Horse

Two successful studies surrounding equine Osteoarthritis that proved the safety and effectiveness of equine pooled cryopreserved umbilical cord blood, (eCB) MSC, to be used in treating joint pain and inflammation have received funding from Equine Guelph.

Led by Dr. Judith Koenig and her team at the Ontario Veterinary College, the first study used stem cells harvested from multiple donors of equine umbilical cord blood, (eCB), (kindly provided by eQcell), MSC were compared to saline injections in research horses. “This type of cells is much more practical if you have a cell bank,” says Koenig. “You can treat more horses with it and it’s off the shelf.” With no systemic reactions, the green light was given for the second study to test stem cell therapy in horses with lameness due to fetlock osteoarthritis.  

Effectiveness of treatment in the second study was conducted by a lameness evaluator that was blinded to whether the horses received stem cell treatment or the saline placebo. “Being consistent in creating the same size chip surgically in the horses prior to treatment and exercise was a challenge,” said Koenig. The four-month study necessitated considerable manpower, with six standardbreds receiving equal daily exercise on treadmills following up with MRI’s.  

MRI’s, x-rays, ultrasounds and weekly lameness evaluations revealed signs of osteoarthritis improved in the group treated with (eCB) MSC’s. After six weeks of treatment, the arthroscopic score was also significantly lower in the MSC group compared to the control group.


Another trial with six horses is planned for Spring 2023. The initial findings are very exciting for the future possibilities of treating equine osteoarthritis with stem cell therapy.

About Equine Guelph

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit the Equine Guelph website here.

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