New medical technologies have a way of becoming commercially available for veterinarian use long before we humans have a shot at it. This is largely because the veterinary world has no real equivalent to the destructive influence of the FDA (and its overseas cousins). New medical technologies for use with animals are developed and commercialized in an environment that - even though overregulated - more readily rewards effectiveness, time to market, a good grasp of risks involved and economic viability. The entrenched interests in human medicine, as in all centralized, largely unaccountable systems, have become dangerously ineffective. Hence dolphins gain access to reconstructive tissue engineering and stem cell therapies, as do horses:
For the past three years, Prof Roger Smith and his team at the Royal Veterinary College in North Mimms, Herts, have recovered stem cells from bone marrow and used them to treat more than 160 horses.
About a third of National Hunt racehorses injure the digital flexor tendons at the back of the lower leg. In the new treatment, a damaged tendon is rapidly "repopulated" by flexible new tendon tissue, rather than leathery scar tissue that naturally forms over a period of up to 18 months.
About 70 per cent of treated horses have returned to racing form - more than double the percentage that would be expected had they received conventional treatment.
Something must be done about the oppressive regulatory regime in Western countries that slows commercialization, blunts the incentives for success, reduces effectiveness and increases costs for human medicine. If good, working regenerative medicine is possible in dolphins and horses, then it is certain possible in people.