A group of veterinary researchers at The Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine have developed a new technology that shows promise in the healing of skin wounds. Because the prevalence of slow and impaired wound healing is high and treatment often difficult, “innovative treatments to improve cutaneous wound healing by promoting complete tissue regeneration are therefore urgently needed.” Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) (adult stem cells that can be isolated from different parts of the body) have been reported to provide chemical signals that promote wound healing, but more work was needed to determine how they exert their effect on cells and to develop a suitable “delivery system” to provide these cells and the factors that they secrete in a safe and controlled way. In this study, the horse was used as a model (the horse is similar to humans in the healing process), and the study’s aim was to look at the way these cells behaved “in vitro” (outside the body) and the effect their secretions would have on equine skin fibroblasts (immature cells that produce connective tissue) and to explore the potential of encapsulating these cells for better delivery “in vitro.” It was hoped that these stem cells “confined inside tiny capsules secrete substances that help heal simulated wounds in cell cultures, opening up new ways of delivering stem cells to locations in the body where they can hasten healing.” The results of their study were encouraging, as they found that the MCSs in the medium stimulated the migration of the healing equine fibroblasts and “increased their expression level of genes that positively contribute to wound healing.” They also found that encapsulating the stem cells did not interfere with either of the above observations and actually seemed to boost the effectiveness of the treatment.
The hope is that this technology would eventually lead to “living bandage technologies,” for example, wound dressings that are embedded with these encapsulated stem cells that would help the wound regenerate, therefore, heal quicker. This technology would not only be extremely useful for horses but for humans as well. A very good thing!
Scientific Article: Bussche L, Harman RM, Syracuse BA, et al. “Microencapsulated equine mesenchymal stromal cells promote cutaneous wound healing in vitro.” Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2015;6:66 http://stemcellres.com/content/6/1/66
Companion Article: Buckley, MR “Encapsulated Stem Cells Accelerate Wound Healing” The Modern Equine Veterinarian May 2015 p. 12-13. online edition.