Veterinary Stem Cell Transfer
Anyone who has lived with an elderly dog knows the heartbreaking feelings of watching a once energetic and nimble pet begin to stumble, avoid stairs, and become reluctant to jump. These are symptoms commonly associated with osteoarthritis, the most common cause of pain in dogs. Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, hip and elbow dysplasia, partial tears of ligaments and tendons, immune disorders, and a variety of other congenital and genetic diseases. Typically, your veterinarian will diagnose the specific problem with x-rays or arthroscopy, and may treat your dog with supplements and anti-inflammatory medicines. The problem is that some dogs are so severely affected that they need something more. They also may be unable to tolerate the drug therapy. For them, stem cell therapy offers hope and a chance to feel well once again.
What are stem cells?
Stem cells have been in the news in recent years because they can grow and differentiate into many types of cell types, with much promise for treating a variety of diseases and injuries. Mention the term "stem cells" to family and friends, though, and you are likely to get a variety of responses and opinions. Why is this? Probably because much of the early research on these cells originated from human embryos, and there are many ethical and legal debates about the procurement and usage of these cells.
Scientists are now utilizing stem cells of different origins; opening up the research and treatment options for humans and pets. Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells are harvested from a variety of tissues, including skin, fat (adipose) and bone marrow, among other tissues. Adult stem cells are less controversial because the samples are easily obtained and the "host" is not destroyed, as with an embryo. Stem cells can differentiate into many cell types as they develop, including bone, cartilage, nerves, muscle, and so on. Thus, treatment using stem cells is termed "regenerative medicine" and has many potential uses for a wide variety of diseases and injuries.
What type of stem cells can be used to treat animals?
Treatment of injured race horses began with adipose-derived stem cells or fat tissue cells. Now, both horses and dogs are being treated in veterinary clinics around the US using a licensed stem cell service by Vet-Stem, Inc. Adipose tissue is utilized because it is readily available and stem cells can be collected in large concentrations.
How are stem cells collected?
Veterinarians must be credentialed by Vet-Stem before using this service. Adipose tissue is collected surgically by the referring veterinarian; only about two tablespoons of adipose are needed.
How are the stem cells processed?
Once the sample is collected, it is shipped overnight in specialized packaging to the Vet-Stem laboratory. The next day, the stem cells are collected from the adipose tissue and shipped back to the veterinarian via overnight service. The next day (day 3), the veterinarian injects the cells into the injured tissue of the patient.
What diseases and injuries are currently treated with stem cell therapy?
Joint, bone and ligament injuries of horses and dogs are being treated with stem cell therapy at this time. This includes everything from arthritis to tendon/ligament injuries to fractures.
What are potential treatments with stem cell therapy?
Stem cell medicine holds much promise for a variety of diseases, including liver, kidney, heart, neurologic and immune-mediated diseases.
What credentials does our veterinarian have to perform stem-cell procedures?
Dr. Evan Kadish and Dr. Kirsten Love have completed the Vet-Stem Credentialing Course that they needed to be able to utilize the Vet-Stem service and to learn about how stem-cell transfers are performed. They each had to complete a 3-hour course that was broken down into four sections. Upon satisfactory completion of the course, the doctors were approved to earn three RACE-Approved Continuing Education Credits and are now able to utilize Vet-Stem services. They are also listed nationwide as a certified Stem-Cell Transfer Veterinarians.