A Swedish biomedical company says a study has shown that its stem cells are safe for use in horses, paving the way for further research amid plans to develop a horse stem cell product.
The firm Xintela is active in regenerative medicine and cancer, with a focus on cartilage damage and brain tumours.
Xintela’s has patented biomarker technology. These markers are specific proteins which sit as “recognition flags” on certain cell surfaces. The markers make it possible to identify and quality-assure cartilage cells and stem cells, and also to select a certain type of stem cells which can develop into cartilage cells.
Through this technology, it says it can quality-assure stem cells for the repair of damaged cartilage.
The firm said last week that the successful study results were an important step toward development of a stem cell product for the treatment of cartilage damage and osteoarthritis.
“We are very pleased to report a positive outcome from the horse study,” Xintela’s chief executive Evy Lundgren-Åkerlund said.
“The results give us confidence to take the next step in the development of a horse stem cell product − a clinical efficacy study on horses with osteoarthritis.”
Xintela’s horse study, carried out at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, showed that its extracted stem cells were safe and did not cause pain or other adverse events. The cells did not lead to any unwanted tissue changes such as ectopic bone formation.
In addition, the study results indicated that the cells had a protective effect on the joint, which is now being further evaluated in collaboration with Dr Lisa Fortier at Cornell University.
“The results are also very important in our efforts to obtain regulatory approval to support clinical trials in humans,” Lundgren-Åkerlund said.
In the study, the stem cells were isolated from a donor horse and selected using the company’s marker technology. They were injected into the hind leg joint, corresponding to the human ankle. The joint of the other hind leg was injected with a salt solution as a control.
The horses in the study had a type of cartilage damage that mimics post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Upon completion of the six-month study, tissues in the joint, including cartilage, underwent in-depth analysis including MRI scanning and examination under a microscope. Organ function was also assessed for any unwanted effects of the injected stem cells.