The Belgian veterinarian wanted to find a way for animals affected by lameness to feel better, to improve recovery over the long term, and to return the horses to their previous level of performance wherever possible. He wanted to tackle the evil of osteoarthritis at the source. In his doctoral thesis, he sought to cultivate new cartilage tissue from the stem cells of healthy horses in test tubes with this goal in mind. “The most important finding was that stem cells are able to influence the production of cartilage tissue when programmed accordingly, and can thus aid in the regeneration of damaged cartilage.”
He founded a company, GST, in order to develop his innovative therapeutic approach into a marketable medication that not only addresses the causes of lameness, but also does so without chemical additives. The principle behind the therapy is that afflicted horses are injected with blood stem cells from donor animals. These stem cells are “programmed” in the lab to send out specific signals that cause cartilage tissue to generate “matrix proteins”. “This allows the cartilage to regenerate and become more robust,” explains Spaas.