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Vargas: Stem-cell therapy changing treatment plans

Date (2016-11-21)

Stem cell therapy is a very progressive and innovative medical treatment that will enable the body to repair and regenerate damaged or diseased tissues. This therapy is available for our pets and is changing the way we approach long-term management of painful bone conditions.

My patient Ariel is a testament of how successful this therapy can be when it comes to a dog born without the proper hip sockets. Almost four years ago, she came to my practice with severe lameness and pain in her hips. A radiograph revealed she was born with severe hip dysplasia and her back legs were chronically dislocated because she did not form a normal hip socket. She was still very young, so we discussed many alternatives, including a total hip replacement surgery. The owner elected a more natural and less invasive approach of acupuncture, herbal formulas, pain relievers, massage and stem cell therapy. This multimodal approach gave this young dog a new lease on life. She has not stopped running or jumping since then and her quality of life skyrocketed. Several other patients have also undergone the stem cell therapy and had similar results. The owners report they noticed their pets having less pain, better mobility and improved strength.

Many readers might be surprised to know that since 2003 close to 8,000 pets (dogs and horses) have been successfully treated using fat derived stem cells for arthritis and other bone related disorders. It is not surprising that there are multiple clinical trials regarding the use of stem cells in other diseases. After all, stem-cells are multipotential, which means they can become other cells. According to Biopharma, a company that processes the stem cells, fat-derived stem cells have been proven to "differentiate into tendon, ligament, bone, cartilage, cardiac, nerve, muscle, blood vessels, fat, and liver tissue."

I am optimistic that in a not-too-distant future, stem cells will prove to be a viable option to treat heart and liver failure. Heart disease is rampant in our senior patients and is usually only managed with medications that can cause an array of side effects. It would be so nice to have a way to actually regenerate and repair the cardiac muscle and fix the issue. Many pet owners think that only the bone marrow or umbilical cords possess stem cells. The technology to extract the cells from fat tissue has also advanced in the past decade. Fat contains a lot of stem cells and can be collected from the pets relatively easy and with lot less complications as the cells taken from the bone marrow. What is even better is that companies like Biopharma will store a sample that can be harvested when needed, sparing the pet from having to be sedated to collect a sample again.

Source : theledger