As I grew up in the age of Star Trek and other Sci-fi of the major networks, we watched with amazement as disease and illness was healed with a few adjustments to the body. As I look at what is unfolding in veterinary medicine, science fiction is becoming a reality in the form regenerative medicine. Who would have believe we could heal the body with it’s own tissue? That is what regenerative medicine is: the use of adult stem cells and platelet-rich plasma harvested from one’s own body to heal disease and injured tissue in one’s own body.
Stem cells are the body’s repair cells. They have the ability to divide and differentiate into many different types of cells based on where they are needed throughout the body. Stem cells can divide and turn into tissues such as skin, fat, muscle, bone, cartilage, and nerve. As if this is not amazing enough, they have the ability to replicate into organs such as the heart, liver, intestines, and pancreas.
In human medicine bone marrow has been the common source of stem cells. So why do veterinarians take the cells from fat tissue? Adult stem cells are highly concentrated in the fat tissue. There are 50 to 1,000 times more stem cells in the fat than the bone marrow. At this concentration, it is not necessary to culture the stem cells to acquire enough stem cells to make a healing impact.
The collection of the fat is a minor surgical procedure. An incision behind the sternum allow us to collect adequate fat for stem cell therapy. The fat undergoes a process over the next couple of hours to remove the stem cells. Then using technology developed by MediVet Biologics, the stem cells are activated with LED technology and combined with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to produce excellent results. At this point the stem cells and PRP are injected into the desired treatment area. Some treatments may require the patient be anesthetized for a brief period. The entire procedure is completed as a day procedure with your pet sleeping in their own bed at home that night.
Adult stem were originally introduced to veterinary medicine as treatment for osteoarthritis. Most pets treated with stem cells for osteoarthritis show results within one week but improvement may take up to 90 days. According to MediVet Biologics, positive clinical improvement is seen in 95% of the arthritic cases performed nationwide.
However, stem cell therapy is not any longer just being used for osteoarthritis. Some of the other areas where stem cells are being used and researched 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
Safety of stem cells is excellent since the stem cells are coming from your pet and are being re-administered back to your pet. There is no risk of an allergic reaction. Occasionally there might be a mild reaction at an injected joint, though generally it will subside within a day or two.