Thirty eight years of practicing veterinary medicine has brought changes that are unbelievable as I reflect back. As I looked at the way I practiced medicine in 1979, I feel like I started in the dark ages. The medical conditions and diseases I treat daily with a high degree of success were a total nightmare. Regenerative medicine is our future.
Some of the changes that I have seen are:
- Improved cancer therapy and cancer vaccines that increase the life of our pets
- Recognition and treatment of pain improving quality of life
- Embracing dental health resulting in many patients having healthy teeth their entire life
- The use of diagnostics to identify disease and detect it early, resulting in early treatment and extending the quantity, as well as quality, of life.
But I believe veterinary medicine is standing on the edge of the greatest medical revolution, and will unfold over the next generation that will change the face of medicine. The tide of regenerative medicine is beginning to flow into the shores. But the surge is growing in strength and will flow gently in the next few years, yet sweep away may of the old standards of medicine.
Regenerative medicine is using our bodies to heal themselves, most commonly with either platelet rich plasma (PRP), or adult stem cells. Already, adult stem cells and PRP have been shown to improve joints with osteoarthritis returning in dogs and cats to giving them pain free mobility. But this is only the beginning. The gold standard of care for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears currently is a major surgery that requires cutting the bone to change the mechanics of the knee, is becoming surgery of the past. Many of us riding the tide of regenerative medicine find stem cell treatment of knees with ACL provide the same or better results than surgery.
But it doesn’t stop with joint and bone problems. Other problems that are showing positive results to regenerative medicine are:
- Nerve and spinal cord damage
- Inflammatory stomatitis of cats
- Chronic vomiting and diarrhea in cat (IBD)
- Chronic renal failure in cats
- Atopy (allergies in dogs)
- Certain phobias and behavioral problems
- Liver disease
The truth is, everyday someone reports some new area for the use of stem cells. While many medical professionals are resistant to these exciting new changes and the uncharted waters ahead of us, regenerative medicine will sweep over medicine in the next few years much like penicillin and antibiotics changed medicine nearly a generation ago. I am excited to be riding this wave offering and making a difference in the lives of my patients with regenerative medicine.