September 12, 2014

Many, if not all, of us, have experienced some type of strain or sprain at some point in our lives. Those involved in sports and older adults are even more prone to this type of injury. Orthopedic medicine has helped to improve functionality and use following this type of injury and cord blood could soon be a tool they have available to promote healing.

Advancements are being made in the fields of orthopedics through the use of mesenchymal stem cells found in the umbilical cord. Researchers are exploring how the regenerative properties of cord blood stem cells could affect the healing in tendon repair.

Each year in the U.S., thousands of Americans experience a serious injury to their tendons, most commonly to the knees or ankles. Other common injuries include Achilles or patellar tendinopathy, rotator cuff injury or disorders, calcaneal and plantar fasciitis in the foot, and muscle and ligament sprains. As most athletes or anyone experiencing a tendon injury can attest to, the healing process of the cartilage is slow and painful. Cartilage does not have the ability to heal on its own. That is why when a person experiences a severely torn tendon or cartilage injury, surgery is often required to repair the damage.

Because cord blood stem cells have the ability to separate into a number of different cell types, including bone, cartilage and fat tissue, it is believed they can be used to stimulate growth and faster healing and help with pain management when it comes to those types of injuries. Stem cell therapy has been used successfully for many years in veterinary medicine, particularly on horses suffering from a cartilage injury or defect1.

For one study, the research team used foal cord blood that was collected at birth, and transplanted the stem cells to horses who experienced a cartilage injury, which are costly and common in horses. The cord blood showed encouraging results, according to those involved with the study. Researchers working with the horses believe this type of stem cell therapy could be used as a model for human cartilage injuries as well, because horse and humans have similar joint structures. • Stem cell therapy targets cartilage defects, Jennifer Perret, Equine Guelph, Published online March 30, 2007. Found online:

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