Medicine is advancing by leaps and bounds and veterinary medicine is no exception. In fact, because the FDA has less restrictions on animal research studies compared to human studies, some of today’s advances are further along for animals!
Regenerative medicine uses a concentrated form of autologous adipose-derived adult stem cells to treat traumatic and degenerative diseases, including bowed tendons, ligament injuries, osteoarthritis, and osteochondral defects in horses and dogs.
Vet-Stem, Inc. is based just outside of San Diego, Calif., and processes stem cells for canine and equine therapy. Currently, it is being used to improve orthopedic soft tissue (tendon, ligament) injuries, bone fractures, osteoarthritis, osteochondritis and conditions like hip dysplasia, which are common in many dog breeds.
The process is relatively simple. A veterinarian who has been certified in providing stem cell therapy for dogs removes about 30 grams (two tablespoons) of subcutaneous adipose (fat) tissue from the dog. It is sent overnight to Vet-Stem where it is processed to remove stem cells from the fat tissue. Some of it is banked for future use and the remainder is overnighted back to your veterinarian for injection into your dog’s affected joint(s). Some veterinarians are also giving stem cell therapy as intravenous injections in conjunction with specific joint injection sites due to the remarkable anti-inflammatory effects it can have for an animal.
Mike Dale, COO at Vet-Stem, reports owner and veterinarian surveys indicate a greater than 80 percent improvement at the 30, 60 and 90 day post-treatment mark. “The technology developed by Vet-Stem will no doubt carry over to human medicine,” says Dale. “I expect to be able to tell my grandchildren the best thing I ever did was Vet-Stem.”
Compared to joint replacement surgery, the cost of stem cell transplants is a bargain. The $2,500 price tag isn’t “bargain store pricing” by any means, but compared to $11,000 or more for joint replacement surgery, it not only makes more sense financially, but let’s face it, it’s a lot less invasive with minimal recovery time for the animal. To date about 3,000 horses and over 2,000 dogs have undergone the stem cell transplant procedure.
Vet-Stem is currently studying the efficacy of stem cell therapy for cats with kidney disease and in dogs with liver disease. They expect to be able to offer these services within two years. Vet-Stem offers a free 3-credit-hour continuing education course for veterinarians interested in becoming credentialed in stem cell transplants.
Have I piqued your interest yet? If you have an injured or infirm quada-ped and would like to explore whether stem cell therapy is appropriate for your pet, talk with your veterinarian about the possibility of stem cell therapy. There is a printable checklist to assist you with the conversation.
To find a veterinarian certified in stem cell therapy click here.
For more information on Vet-Stem, check out their blog.
Photo by Jana Rade; can you tell which of these dogs is 4.5 years older and has undergone stem cell therapy?