Stem cells are cells that are able to self-renew (able to replicate many times in the same state) and able to become or ‘differentiate into’ many types of cell. There are broadly two types of mammalian stem cell: embryonic and adult. Embryonic stem cells are ‘totipotent’ and can become any cell in the body and therefore could form a whole organism. Adult stem cells, such as those used by the Nupsala procedure, are only ‘multipotent’ and are more limited in their differentiation but can become any cells within a closely related family. This limited differentiation actually makes them easier to control in the lab. Using adult stem cells avoids the controversy and restrictions associated with the use of embryonic stem cells.
Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Nupsala Stem Cell Therapy uses mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are adult stem cells that are able to become tendon cells (tenocytes), bone cells (osteocytes), cartilage (chondrocytes) and fat cells (adipocytes). These can be harvested from adipose tissue, bone marrow or from the Wharton’s Jelly of the umbilical cord. Vets routinely use the sternum (breastbone) or tuber coxae (hip) as a source of bone marrow in equine patients. This is done under sedation with little or no discomfort to the horse (at no point is general anaesthetic necessary). In humans this would be taken from the ilium (part of the pelvis).