Adipose Derived Stem Cell Therapy
Now Available at McGilvray Veterinary Hospital
What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cell therapy is a new approach at treating chronic, degenerative disease conditions. Stem cells are cells that have the potential to differentiate or change into many different cell types. Adipose derived stem cells are cells that are extracted from an animal’s own fat tissue. These cells can differentiate into cells that make bone, cartilage, muscle, and other tissues in the body.
The differentiated cells can then help to repair these tissues in the body that have become damaged.
The stem cell therapy now available at McGilvray Veterinary Hospital is used for the treatment of osteoarthritis – a chronic degenerative process that occurs in the joints of dogs and cats. While this kind of stem cell therapy has been available to veterinarians for many years, it was previously required to ship the tissues involved to an outside US lab, which took several weeks.
The in-house laboratory now available at McGilvray Veterinary Hospital gives us the ability to complete the entire process in one day.
Who is eligible?
Many dogs and cats that are suffering from osteoarthritis can benefit from stem cell therapy. These include: animals that have not responded to other treatments for arthritis, animals that cannot tolerate traditional anti-inflammatory medications, and animals with conditions that cannot be repaired surgically. Your veterinarian can help you decide whether this treatment is right for your pet.
Animals that have been selected to receive stem cell therapy will arrive at the hospital in the morning. Through a safe, simple surgical procedure, a sample of fat will be extracted from the patient. Following this, the animal will recover from the anesthetic and rest while the samples are processed.
The fat tissue will be processed by our in-house laboratory equipment. This process involves separating the stem cells from the fat and culturing the cells. The patient’s blood will also be processed during this time. A centrifugation process will separate the blood cells from the plasma and platelets.
The platelets, plasma, and stem cells will be combined and prepared for injection back to the patient. Once the stem cell mixture is prepared, the animal will be given a short acting injectable anesthetic. A portion of the mixture will be injected directly into the affected joint.
The remainder of the solution will be given into the vein. You may also choose to have extra fat tissue collected at the time of the initial treatment. This can then be stored for future repeat injections without the need for a second surgical procedure.
The stem cells harvested from the adipose tissue contain molecules called cytokines and growth factors. Similar molecules are also found in the platelets and plasma. Together these cytokines and growth factors act in areas of injury and inflammation, such as inflammed joints, to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
The stem cells themselves can even enter the tissues and differentiate into cartilage producing cells to repair damaged cartilage. The result is a reduction in joint inflammation, promotion of blood supply to the area, reduction in scar tissue formation, repair of damaged cartilage, and formation of new cartilage.
Studies have shown that this therapy works. Dogs treated with adipose derived stem cells had reduced pain, reduced lameness at a walk and trot, and improved range of joint motion compared to control dogs that did not receive the treatment. These kinds of results have been found by pet owners who have had the procedure performed on their own pet.
In fact, greater that 75% of owners who have had this procedure done believe their pet’s quality of life improved following the procedure. Many owners have found that within the first 10 days, their pet is already able to do more than before the procedure, like climb stairs or jump into vehicles.
While the stem cell procedure is used now for osteoarthritis in pets, there is extensive research on the horizon into other potential benefits of stem cell therapy. Since these cells can differentiate into many different cell types, they may be used in the future for the treatment of many different diseases.
This includes heart, kidney, and liver disease as well as neurological and gastrointestinal conditions. Stem cell therapy has a promising future, and the treatment of osteoarthritis is just the beginning.