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Stem Cell Repair -

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PART TWO OF STORY

NARRATION:

This is Lindsay Park - the famous Hayes family stud and racing stable in South Australia's Barossa
region. They breed and train some of the fastest horses in the land here using the traditional
methods, but lately using stem cell technology. In fact horse stem cell science is much more
advanced than human.

GRAHAM PHILLIPS:

It's much easier to use new medical technologies in animals because you don't have to first go
through the extensive trial process. And here at Lindsay park they've been implanting stem cells in
horses for four years. It's to help regrow damaged tendons in their legs and they've achieved some
remarkable results.

NARRATION:

In the past when horses tear their superficial flexor tendon their careers are usually over. But
stem cell implants have now brought a number of horses back from the dead to again win big races.

They're using adult stem cellS, in particular mesenchymal ones: they can turn into bone, cartilage
or tendons. They're present in bone marrow, and to extract them requires only a local anaesthetic.

DR CAMPBELL BAKER:

This is going to collect the bone marrow. It goes up into the sternum and then we'll able to
hopefully sample the bone marrow.

NARRATION:

The bone marrow sample is sent off to the lab for the mesenchymal stem cells to be extracted.

GRAHAM PHILLIPS:

This is what the stem cell cultures look like after about two or three weeks of growth. That
process is called expansion, where basically the few thousand stem cells that were started off with
are turned into 20 million.

NARRATION:

After about three weeks the horse's expanded stem cells arrive back at Lindsay Park. Under the
guidance of ultrasound, they're injected directly into the damaged tendon. In a flush they inundate
the tendon. But implanting the stem cells is just the beginning. The horse has to be exercised
appropriately so the brand new tendon re-grows as naturally as possible.

GRAHAM PHILLIPS:

I tell you what, it's one of the strangest sights I've seen in my life: a horse galloping full bolt
on one of these.

DR CAMPBELL BAKER:

It is and they adapt very well to it. The advantages we've got with it is that there is no weight
on their back from the rider. The work he does is monitored - there are heart rate monitors there -
if we do too much with him or he can't handle what we're doing then the heart rate tells us and you
stop that programme or readjust it. Then they'll go to paddock for a spell to let the cells mature
and the tendon develop.

GRAHAM PHILLIPS:

These are some before and after scans?

DR CAMPBELL BAKER:

Yes Graham. The one on the left here is Gorky Park when he injured his tendon and you can see quite
clearly in these scans that there is a black hole in the tendon. That's the lesion caused by
inflammation and degradation of the tissue in the tendon.

NARRATION:

Twelve months after stem cell treatment the recovery is remarkable.

DR CAMPBELL BAKER:

And you can see here the tendon does not have the black hole in it. If we compare this one to that
one there is no evidence at all of any damage to the tissue.

NARRATION: Now Mesenchymal stem cells have been used in humans too, but not for tendons, to regrow
broken bones. Sarita's problems began a long time ago.

SARITA NOLTEN:

At the age of nine I got hit by a car. I splintered my femur. That was totally gone, like in
pieces. And my lower leg. But I also broke all my ribs, my jaw, my arm. Basically anything that
could be damaged was damaged then.

NARRATION:

Sarita led a normal life until one day in 2006 at a café.

SARITA NOLTEN: I

was sitting over there. And I got up. I then went over here. And just walked here. And heard a snap
and the next thing I was on the ground.

NARRATION:

Sarita's most serious break from childhood had spontaneously re-broken. But stem cells came to her
rescue. She took part in a trial with 10 other people whose bones that hadn't healed properly.

RICHARD FARRUGIA:

Your actual fracture area goes down through her around there and back down here. There are
different sort of depths. Basically here we're all the way through. The shades of grey show
different depths in that particular image.

NARRATION:

And the stem cells had a dramatic result.

RICHARD FARRUGIA:

In this one we're at the 10-week mark into the trial after having the stem cells popped in. If you
see the contrast there you'll see most of that bone has started to fill in. And the patient was
actually judged as being at union at that stage.

GRAHAM PHILLIPS:

So that new bone is just normal bone?

RICHARD FARRUGIA:

Yes, absolutely no different to the bone that formed when you were growing up.

NARRATION:

Excitingly, eight out of the ten people in Sarita's trial had their non-healing bones fully
regrown.

SARITA NOLTEN:

The opportunities and possibilities for other people who are even worse off than I was are just
incredible. It's just amazing.