This trial is taking place in the UK and horses have been doing great and one went on to win a race. Of course, all are hoping for the same results with humans, and there will be just a small group of 10 people in the trial who have had injuries.
The procedures all helped with lowering the rate of re-injuring as well with the horses. The patient's own stem cells will be taken from the pelvic area weeks before the surgical procedure. BD
The stem cell treatment for what's known as "tendinopathy" in racehorses has been so successful that one horse to receive the treatment, Dream Alliance, went on to win the 2009 Welsh Grand National.
The technique also saw the re-injury rate of the treated horses fall by 50%.
In humans, the condition is called Achilles tendinopathy and causes severe pain in the heel. About 85,000 people are affected by the problem in the UK each year. At present there are limited options for treating the condition apart from surgery, but stem cells offer a different solution because of their ability to regenerate.
Exploring the use of stem cell treatments in racehorses provided the perfect test-bed for humans because, Dr Goldberg says, "horses have similar problems to tendon problems found in humans".Over the next six months, the tendons will be measured using a special 3D colour scan, to see if the treatment has been successful in regenerating the tendon.
"Before we relied on the body repairing it," says Dr Goldberg. "But a degenerative problem need stem cells."
The process of repair could work in two ways, he says.
Either the stem cells will turn into new tendon cells, or the stem cells will encourage other cells around them to form new healthy cells.