The first regulatory approved veterinary stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis in horses is now available

Jan H. Spaas

Global Stem cell Technology NV, Noorwegenstraat 4, 9940 Evergem, Belgium

Relevant regulations

In 2019, the first veterinary licensed stem cell therapy for the treatment of non-infectious joint disease in horses was launched in the UK. This treatment differs from previously available stem cell therapies as it has undergone rigorous testing of its manufacturing process, efficacy and safety profile to ensure its suitability as a treatment option. This treatment uses stem cells that have been collected from the blood samples of donor horses. This is known as an allogeneic source of stem cells, compared to an autologous source which describes the harvesting of stem cells from the patients themselves.    

Product quality

The allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are derived from the peripheral blood of healthy prequalified adult horses and are fully characterized according to guidelines of the international society for cellular therapy. With every cell therapy it is indispensable to perform a thorough characterization of the cell culture and to standardize the production process according to good manufacturing practices (GMP) in clean rooms. All these aspects allow a controlled process in an aseptic environment, which makes sure the product is sterile before use.

Before clinical application, these MSCs are checked for the absence of rejection proteins allowing them to be safely injected into other horses. Unlike other stem cell treatments, the MSCs are primed towards the chondrogenic lineage using cartilage specific substances. This results in significantly more MSCs that attach to cartilage and fill cartilage lesions.


Practical aspects

Allogeneic therapies are ready-to-use stem cell products that are available at the moment an injury occurs and avoid tissue harvesting from the injured animals. Another advantage of allogeneic therapies is the strict donor selection, which ensures high quality stem cell cultures.

Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies were performed using this product and confirmed the safety and efficacy of the treatment as a novel therapy for osteoarthritis in horses. Indeed, 6 weeks after the treatment 78% of the stem cell treated horses were back into work, as compared to 24% in the placebo group. One year post treatment most of the stem cell treated horses (84%) were working at training level or had returned to their previous level of work.

Contact address:

Dr. Jan H. Spaas, Global Stem cell Technology NV, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.