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Could cows be used more in research?


Cows may be far more valuable for research into regenerative medicine than currently thought, according to a US study.

The research at Cornell University, New York, analysed the genetic information of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), taken from the blood, bone marrow and fat tissue of a cow.

MSCs hold promise for creating treatments to regenerate cells and tissues, for example to heal injuries, because they can develop into many different types of cell. However, the way that the cells grow in the lab is currently inconsistent, limiting their use in therapy.

By comparing MSCs data, the team found that cows had a higher similarity of their MSCs to human MSCs, compared with mice, the species usually used for this type of research.

This suggests that cows could be a useful animal to one day test therapies at the genetic level – currently there are no approved MSCs-based human therapies of any type, although clinical trials are underway for several diseases.

Lead researcher Gerlinde Van De Walle said: “Every regenerative medicine therapeutic or approach that you would want to use in humans always has to be tested in an animal model first.

“This work is really important for actually putting the cow on the map as a valuable animal model for translational studies in regenerative medicine.”

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