PPCT grant holder, Yasmin Paterson, has won the Walter and Dorothy Plowright Memorial Prize for Young Researchers 2019 through the Veterinary Research Club.
The grant from Petplan Charitable Trust has enabled Yasmin Paterson to use cutting-edge science to investigate ways to improve tendon healing in horses.
‘Without the additional funding we received from the PPCT this project would not have been possible,’ she says.
According to Paterson, tendon injuries are one of the most common forms of orthopaedic injuries in horses, affecting all disciplines. However, despite a multitude of available treatments, over half of the horses which have this type of injury will go on to re-injure. The reason for this high rate of re-injury is due to the way in which adult tendons heal; forming functionally deficient scar tissue.
‘Interestingly, this is in complete contrast to how fetal tendons heal, which have this remarkable ability to heal without forming any scar tissue,’ observes Paterson. ‘This property is intrinsic to the fetal cells themselves. My research is therefore looking at whether we could use a stem cell-based therapy to try and improve adult tendon healing and mimic that of fetal tendons.’
PPCT grant has enabled the team to use cutting-edge sequencing techiniques
Stem cells are unique in that they can turn into all the cell types in the body. The team wanted to find out whether their stem cells, once they’d become tendon cells, would behave more like adult or fetal tendon cells.
‘This may tell us if they would be useful therapeutically,’ explains Paterson. ‘At the moment I am currently in the final year of this study, and we have definitely generated some really interesting results which strengthens the evidence that our stem cells may in fact prove very useful in the future!’
The PPCT grant has enabled the team at the Animal Health Trust to use cutting-edge sequencing techniques to compare cell types in much greater depth than would have been possible with just her PhD funding alone.
‘The search for treatments for career-ending tendon injuries is really my passion, and so my immediate plan for the future is to try and continue this crucial work by applying for fellowship funding to investigate further some of the findings from my PhD. In terms of my long-term goal, I want to help pave the way to seeing this science move into clinics, so that we can start to help improve the welfare of many horses.
‘Knowing that you’re working on something that could really make a difference to animals’ lives makes all the hard work worthwhile.”