Feb 26, 2021

VetStem CEO Discusses Stem Cells and COVID-19 on Podcast

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Stem Cells, VetStem

VetStem founder and CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, was recently featured on a San Diego-based podcast to discuss all things stem cells, including the current COVID-19 clinical trial developed by our human company, Personalized Stem Cells.

One Medicine: Animal Data Helping People

We have previously blogged about a concept we call “One Medicine,” also known as translational medicine, in which advances in the veterinary field lead to advances in human medicine. In the last year, this notion has really come to the forefront, as we were hit with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is very common for human scientists and doctors to review data obtained from animals when developing a new drug or technology. In a previous blog, we discussed how animal data was utilized to expedite development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, evaluation of COVID-19 positive animals has helped researchers understand how the virus functions and how it is transmitted in various species.

A graphic of a chest and lungs on a black background. The lungs are highlighted blue implying inflammation from COVID-19 infection

Data from VetStem Patients Helps People with COVID-19

VetStem has also joined the ranks in the fight against COVID-19. In fact, it was VetStem’s 15+ years of veterinary stem cell data that led to the development of an FDA approved COVID-19 stem cell clinical trial in human patients. Our human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc., developed and received FDA approval for the clinical trial and then licensed it to Sorrento Therapeutics. The study is well underway and the preliminary results look very promising.

In addition to discussing our contributions to the COVID-19 clinical trial, Dr. Harman also discussed our work with exotics organizations and specifically mentions helping an arthritic Sun Bear at the San Diego Zoo. He gives a bit of history regarding VetStem’s formation, treating his border collie Ben, as well as his own treatment with stem cell therapy for a rotator cuff injury.

Click here to listen to the podcast!

Share
Feb 19, 2021

Walking to Reduce Obesity and Osteoarthritis

February 22nd is National Walk Your Dog Day, a day to remind dog owners about the importance of regular exercise such as walking. Studies have demonstrated that regular exercise can actually reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and contribute to weight loss and weight management.

Link Between Obesity and Osteoarthritis

According to caninearthritis.org, osteoarthritis is the number one medical condition associated with obesity in dogs. Excess weight leads to increased wear and tear on a dog’s joints and can therefore lead to the onset or worsening of osteoarthritis. When a dog’s joints become painful, this often leads to reduced activity. Reduced activity can lead to more weight gain and thus the cycle continues. While it may seem appropriate to restrict activity for dogs with painful joints, the opposite is actually true!

Walking to Reduce Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Multiple studies have shown that regular exercise can benefit arthritic joints. Regular, low-impact exercise, such as walking, can lead to reduced joint pain and stiffness, weight loss, and increased muscle mass. Experts agree that regular, short-interval exercise is key, as opposed to doing one big activity on the weekends, such as a long hike. Regular exercise may be something as simple as taking a walk daily or on most days.

So now that you know the benefits of walking, let’s all take a walk on National Walk Your Dog Day!   

Note: Your veterinarian is your best resource when it comes to your dog’s health. Your vet can help you determine if your dog is overweight or if your dog has a degenerative joint condition such as osteoarthritis. He/she can also help you formulate an exercise plan tailored specifically to your dog’s needs.

Share
Feb 12, 2021

Platelet Therapy in Veterinary Medicine

This week, we have a special guest blog about platelet therapy use in veterinary medicine from Dr. Amber Vibert. Dr. Vibert is VetStem’s Safety and Technical Services Veterinarian and has extensive experience in both general and emergency veterinary medicine.

Platelet Therapy in Veterinary Medicine

I’m very excited to have the opportunity to contribute to our blog today! As VetStem’s new clinical veterinarian, I’m here to give you an added layer of information from a medical perspective. Today I’d like to share with you the capabilities of wonderous cells called platelets. You may have heard the term “Platelet Rich Plasma” (PRP) or “Platelet Enhancement Therapy” (PET) and wondered, “What are platelets and how does this treatment work, exactly?” We have showcased several success stories of pets who have received platelet therapy and now it’s time to look at the science behind the medicine and applications for which they can be used.

Activated platelets releasing their healing molecules

Good Things Come in Small Packages

Platelets are very small cells found in the blood stream of mammals and are best known for their ability to clot the blood. However, there is SO MUCH MORE these tiny but powerful cells can do! A complex signaling system sent out from damaged cells attracts platelets to an injury and tells them to release several healing molecules that they have stored inside of them. In turn, these healing molecules attract a multitude of additional healing cells (including stem cells) to the site of injury or inflammation. Together, these cells have been shown to reduce pain, remove the damaged cells, build new blood vessels, prevent further tissue damage, and generate new healthy cells in place of the injured ones. Amazing!

What Can These Heroes of Healing Be Used For?

In veterinary medicine, platelet therapy is most often used for treatment of joint-related problems such as cruciate ligament tears, osteoarthritis and tendon injuries in dogs, cats, and horses. However, recent research has shown that PRP/PET can also aid in the healing of skin wounds, corneal (eye) ulcers, surgical incision sites, tooth sockets following extraction, and even muscle tears. And the use of platelet therapy is not just limited to our animal companions. You may have heard of NFL players who have received PRP/PET for tendon/ligament injuries and muscle tears. Platelet therapy can also be used in conjunction with stem cell therapy to maximize the effect of both treatments.

A dog receives an injection of platelet therapy into her injured knee
A canine patient receives an injection of platelet therapy into her injured knee

Harnessing the Power of Platelets

The functions of platelets may be complex, but their collection and administration is quite simple. A calculated amount of blood is drawn based on the patient’s size/weight. The blood sample is then either spun in a machine called a centrifuge or injected through a special filter such as VetStem’s V-PET™ gravitational filter system in order to separate the platelets from other blood cells. The final product is a highly concentrated number of platelets suspended in the protein-rich fluid component of the blood called plasma. This solution is then injected (or topically applied as with skin wounds or surgical incisions) to the injury site. And voila! There you have platelet therapy- another way to enhance the body’s own power to heal.

Share
Feb 5, 2021

February is National Cat Health Month

Posted by Bob under Cat Stem Cells, Cats

Welcome to February, which happens to be National Cat Health Month. While we should always be mindful of the health and well-being of our pets, February reminds us not to forget about our cats! Statistics from the American Veterinary Medical Association indicate that dogs in the United States visit veterinarians more frequently than cats. There are likely a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that cats hide pain and illness very well.

Cats are Masters at Hiding Pain and Sickness

Most of us cat owners know that cats tend to appear slightly less domesticated than dogs (or maybe they are just too smart for their own good!). So it comes as no surprise that some of their survival instincts remain intact. One such instinct is this tendency to hide anything that a potential predator may portray as weakness. By masking weaknesses, the cat does not draw unwanted and potentially dangerous attention.

A grey and white tabby cat lying on blanket to promote National Cat Health Month

Signs that Something may be Wrong

The good news is, there are some pretty clear signs to look out for to determine if something may be wrong with your cat. One sign of illness in cats is a change in activity level. Many cats will hide when they are not feeling well, which goes back to their instinct to not attract attention from predators. A sick or painful cat might play less and may not be able to jump as high as before. Some other things to look for include changes in appetite, changes in litter box habits, and of course more obvious signs like vomiting, diarrhea, and limping.

Why Veterinary Care for Cats is Important

Just like dogs (and people!), routine check-ups are important to maintain a cat’s health. Even if nothing appears to be wrong with your cat, these routine examinations by your veterinarian may uncover some ailment that your cat has been hiding. In the same way, routine bloodwork can help your veterinarian monitor for diseases such as kidney failure. In diseases like kidney failure, early diagnosis and treatment leads to a better prognosis.

How VetStem Has Helped Cats

There are multiple feline diseases, in limited numbers, that have been successfully treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. Some of these diseases include osteoarthritis (no, it is not just a dog problem!), kidney disease, gingivostomatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). For more detailed information about using VetStem Cell Therapy for these conditions, check out our previous blog. If you are interested in stem cell therapy for your cat, we encourage you to speak to your veterinarian or contact us for a list of VetStem providers in your area. February is the perfect month to check in with your cat’s health!

Share
Jan 29, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy for Equine Cervical Facet Disease

Equine cervical facet disease is a broad term used to describe a degenerative disease process in the neck of horses. Conventional treatment options are geared toward managing symptoms but ongoing degeneration of the facet joints and their supportive structures can occur. In recent years, we have seen promising results in the treatment of cervical facet disease with VetStem Cell Therapy.

What is Equine Cervical Facet Disease?

Equine cervical facet disease is a degenerative condition that causes pain and stiffness in the neck of affected horses. Cervical facets are the synovial joints that connect a vertebra to its neighboring vertebrae. Cervical facet joint problems can stem from developmental orthopedic diseases or from injuries to tendons, ligaments, and other cervical facet joint structures, all of which can lead to the development of osteoarthritis and/or instability of the cervical vertebrae. Arthritic cervical facet joints gradually enlarge which can lead to the impingement of nerve roots and/or the spinal cord.

Symptoms of cervical facet disease vary and may include pain, stiffness, neurologic deficits, performance problems, saddling problems, reluctance to collect and go on the bit, neck stuck in fixed position and unable to move, and front limb lameness. Conventional treatments for these joints may temporarily reduce inflammation and pain, but the joints and their supportive structures may continue to degenerate and lead to a worsening of symptoms.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Equine Cervical Facet Disease

VetStem Cell Therapy has been used for over 15 years to treat osteoarthritis and tendon/ligament injures in dogs, cats, and horses. Stem cells have demonstrated the ability to reduce pain and inflammation and to promote healing and the regeneration of damaged tissues. Nearly five years ago, a horse named San Fransisko (or Sisko, for short) received VetStem Cell Therapy for cervical facet disease as part of a clinical research program.

Sisko is a talented horse trained in Dressage. When an injury led to a diagnosis of cervical facet disease, Sisko’s veterinarian recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. To make a long story short, Sisko had a great response to stem cell therapy and advanced in his career in Dressage. Read Sisko’s story here.

Recently, Sisko’s mom reached out to VetStem to share an update. See what she had to say below:

A black horse with rider at dressage competition after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy for Equine Cervical Facet Disease
Sisko at Regional Championship Show September 2020

I thought I would give you an update on how Sisko has been doing. We almost lost him in March of 2020 to a neurological infection of unknown origin. With the quick thinking of my vet and a pathogen lab in Florida, he was saved with an experimental drug and recovered completely. He went back into training in April and started showing in June. He breezed through Second Level, which totally amazed my trainer. We were fortunate enough to go to ten shows during the season (with strict COVID precautions in place) and Sisko qualified for our regional championships in First and Second Levels Open Division. He did very well at that show, winning a second and three thirds in his four classes. He ended the year as Open Champion in First and Second Levels for our California Dressage Society chapter’s series of rated shows and Open Champion in Second Level for our schooling shows. He also won the USDF Open Regional Schooling Shows Championship in Second Level for Region 7. Besides those achievements, we are thrilled that Sisko won the USDF German Sport Horse Breed Award in First Level for the entire United States and took that same award for the second year in a row for our CDS chapter. To top off those honors, he placed 29th out of 140 horses in First Level for the USDF Horse of the Year (with only five three-star shows counting towards that distinction). He is currently training Third Level and we’re excited to see how he does at the shows this year.

I firmly believe that without his stem cell treatment, Sisko would not be progressing up the levels and doing so well in his training. He is a very talented horse, with a great work ethic, and I am proud and grateful to have him! He has a wonderful team supporting him, which makes his success so much more special.

There is Still More to Learn

Like all of our clinical development conditions, there is still more to learn about the treatment of cervical facet disease with VetStem Cell Therapy. While results will vary, Sisko’s case is very promising.

Does your horse have cervical facet disease? Speak to your veterinarian or contact us to find a list of VetStem providers in your area. Though we are not currently conducting an equine cervical facet disease clinical research program, we are available to work with your veterinarian to help determine if your horse may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy.

Share
Jan 22, 2021

VetStem Patent Protection and Licensing

Posted by Bob under VetStem

As the first company in the United States to provide an adipose-derived stem cell service to veterinarians for their patients, VetStem holds exclusive global veterinary licenses to a portfolio of issued patents in the field of regenerative medicine and owns a number of patents and patent applications. We believe these patents are an important way to strengthen our intellectual property in the rapidly developing field of regenerative medicine.

a VetStem laboratory technician processing stem cells.

As leaders in the field, VetStem contributes to the development of the regenerative medicine market. As such, we have invested heavily in patent protection of our technology and recently engaged appropriate counsel to pursue licensing and patent enforcement. Our goal is to provide opportunities to potentially infringing companies to license one or more of our patents to utilize in their own business model. This creates a win-win situation for everyone involved, including the customers who potentially benefit from the technology.

We recently completed licensing deals with multiple companies for use of our patented technology. These deals mean that the other companies can continue using and profiting from our technology while VetStem earns revenue to invest back into the company. For instance, a recent sublicense by one of our licensees brought VetStem $1.75 million in upfront licensing revenue. Thus, these licensing deals help optimize the value of our company and further solidify our stake in the market.

With ongoing research and development, VetStem endeavors to stay at the forefront of the field. Since the first VetStem recipient in 2004, VetStem has processed nearly 14,000 patient samples, resulting in over 30,000 stem cell treatments. Without our dedicated clientele, veterinarians, and pet owners alike, we could not do what we do!

Share
Jan 15, 2021

Talk a Walk this January for Walk Your Pet Month!

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis

January is Walk Your Pet Month! This month-long celebration serves to remind pet owners of the benefits of regular exercise. Walking your dog (or your cat!) can be an easy way to provide your pet with consistent, low-impact exercise, which can lead to improvements in joint health.

Benefits of Regular Exercise

Like people, pets may benefit from regular exercise. Walking is a low-impact exercise that may contribute to weight loss and may delay the onset and/or severity of osteoarthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, walking comes with several benefits which may lead to healthier joints including muscle strengthening, joint fluid circulation, and weight loss. Weight loss is an important factor when it comes to managing pain and lameness associated with osteoarthritis. One study found that weight loss significantly decreased lameness in obese dogs with OA.

VetStem patient, Rascal, getting some exercise and some vitamin sea!

How to Exercise Your Pet

Different pets require different exercise regimens, which vary based on several factors. One of your best resources is your veterinarian. He/She can help you build an exercise plan tailored specifically to your pet. That being said, it appears that regular, moderate exercise may be beneficial in comparison to intermittent, intense exercise.

According to Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, “Regular physical activity is paramount in the treatment of osteoarthritis both in humans and animals. A lifestyle of regular activity that is moderated away from intermittent extremes of exercise (such as long hikes on the weekends) and activities to which the pet is not conditioned is essential. Ideally, multiple shorter walks are better than one long one. The same activity every day (or slightly increasing if tolerated) is ideal.”

Cats Need Exercise Too!

When we think of walking our pet, most of us immediately think of dogs. But cats suffer from osteoarthritis too and may benefit from routine exercise. Of course, it is not quite as easy with cats as it is with dogs. Some cats may like to walk on the leash. Others may prefer to play with a toy. Speak to your veterinarian about appropriate ways to exercise your cats to help keep them as healthy as possible.

Share
Jan 8, 2021

COVID-19 Transmission in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cats, COVID-19

As we begin 2021 and remain in the midst of a global pandemic, we wanted to revisit the topic of COVID-19 in animals. In previous blogs, we discussed the spread of the novel coronavirus from humans to animals and from animal to animal. While we know that animals can become infected with COVID-19, the CDC continues to report that there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 in Animals

You may remember that the first reported case of a pet with COVID-19 was a dog in Hong Kong. From there, more reports emerged of animals infected with the virus. In the United States, the first report of a COVID-19 positive animal was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Several other large cats at the facility went on to test positive in the following weeks. After that, it was two cats from separate households in New York, both of which likely contracted the virus from a COVID-19 positive owner. At the time, I remember wondering about the link between cats and COVID-19 and whether there was any significance there.

As the weeks and months went on, more and more reports of COVID-19 positive animals came out. Dogs, cats, minks, more exotic large cats. As of late December 2020, the USDA reported a total of 11 exotic cats (tigers, lions, and a snow leopard) and 54 domestic cats in the United States tested positive for COVID-19. This in comparison to a total of 38 COVID-19 positive dogs.

Cats Infected with COVID-19

While it is clear that some animals are more susceptible to the virus, there isn’t much information regarding COVID-19 within specific species. For instance, it is not currently clear how many COVID-19 positive cats experience symptoms. It appears that some cats have symptoms while others are asymptomatic. But we do not yet know why that is the case.

We also do not know the death rate in cats with COVID-19. There is news that a cat in Pennsylvania that had COVID-19 was humanely euthanized due to respiratory distress. There was another cat in Alabama that passed away and was COVID-19 positive however information suggests that the cat had additional health issues that were more likely the cause of death. Fortunately, it does not appear that cats are at high risk of death from COVID-19 infection. But more studies are necessary to understand how this virus affects our four-legged companions.

COVID-19 Transmission in Cats

In November, a study out of Kansas State University confirmed some of my suspicions regarding COVID-19 transmission in cats. The study concluded that cats infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can be asymptomatic and still easily spread the infection to other cats. The study found that the virus is shed through an asymptomatic cat’s nasal, oral, and rectal cavities and that they can infect other cats within 2 days of contracting the virus.

While more research is needed, this information is crucial to understanding how the virus is transmitted in cats. And though we mentioned it before, it is worth repeating: there is still no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. There is, however, significant evidence to suggest people spread the virus to animals. So, if you or a family member is suspected to have, or tests positive for, COVID-19, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with your pets.

More Studies Are Needed

There is still so much to learn about the novel coronavirus. More studies are underway to determine how this virus operates and what we can do to keep everyone, both ourselves and our pets, safe. For now, we will continue to do our best to keep ourselves and others healthy. At VetStem, we continue to follow our local ordinances by social distancing, wearing masks, and requiring employees to stay home if they have symptoms or exposure. Though these are scary and uncertain times, we hope that the start of 2021 finds you and your loved ones, two- and four-legged, happy and healthy.

Share
Dec 18, 2020

The History of VetStem: The Foundation of Our Success

Posted by Bob under VetStem

As 2020 comes to an end, we would like to focus our last blog of the year on the history and successes of VetStem Biopharma.

VetStem was born in 2002 with a dream to deliver regenerative medicine services and products to improve the lives of horses. It expanded shortly thereafter to provide regenerative medicine to small animals. By 2007 we had launched a full dog and cat program. In 2012 we started to respond to requests from zoos and aquatic animal parks to provide for their wild and exotic animal needs.

In the past 18 years, VetStem’s dedicated staff have provided veterinary regenerative medicine services for nearly 14,000 patients. We have focused on providing high quality cell therapy treatments and products such as the V-PET and Genesis platelet therapy systems. In our quest to spread regenerative medicine knowledge to veterinarians and pet owner, we have attended hundreds of conferences, produced 15 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and have spoken at conferences and clinics hundreds of times. Our first-of-its-kind regenerative medicine online training course has provided formal continuing education for over 5,000 veterinarians in the U.S. and abroad. 

In 2018 we decided the time was right to launch our own human stem cell company, and Personalized Stem Cells (PSC) was born. The mission was to use the years of VetStem animal safety and efficacy data to add human stem cell medicine to our portfolio. We are completing our first FDA approved study of knee arthritis this month and have developed an entire FDA program for treating COVID-19 patients, which we have licensed to Sorrento Therapeutics. Our plan is to move into traumatic brain injury in 2021.

This year, we also announced the launch of our contract manufacturing business, commonly called a CMO or CDMO, and we have christened this division Performance Cell Manufacturing (PCM). This was an opportunistic move to use our beautiful FDA GMP manufacturing plant and cell manufacturing experience to make important cell therapy products for other companies for use in clinical trials. 

PSC and PCM have brought revenue to VetStem and allowed us to grow, hire, and weather the COVID-19 storm, however, the human division would not exist without the years of animal cell therapy work and dedication of our employees through some tough economic times. Our animal health services are the foundation of everything that we have built, and we try to convey the importance of our veterinary business with the images in our front lobby (see below).

I believe in One Medicine, where the learning in the veterinary world supports animals and provides crucial information for human medicine. But I am, and always will be, a veterinarian first. We sincerely thank all of our dedicated customers, veterinarians and pet owners alike, and wish everyone the happiest of holidays. May 2021 bring health and happiness to all.   

VetStem Cell Therapy Patient Success Stories in our Lobby
VetStem Cell Therapy Recipient, Storm
Share
Dec 11, 2020

VetStem Celebrates 15 Years of Biocom Membership

Posted by Bob under VetStem

We recently reached our 15 year anniversary as a member of Biocom, a life science association. Biocom is an organization that supports the life sciences on many fronts and in multiple locations. While Biocom is primarily based in California, they also have locations in Washington D.C. and Tokyo. From their website, “Biocom harnesses the collective power and experience of the most innovative and productive life science clusters in the world, with powerful advocacy and transformative programs to help companies in their quest to improve the human condition. Biocom provides the strongest public voice for research institutions and companies that fuel the California economy.”

As a member-driven organization, Biocom provides life science companies with the opportunities and resources they need to fulfill business goals. Biocom is great for networking and connecting companies in the San Diego area. Local area members include businesses in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, genomics, diagnostic, medical device, connected health, agriculture, and bio-renewable energy fields. Their website states, “With 23 years in San Diego, Biocom is well known for its collaborative spirit and integral role in ensuring the life science ecosystem of San Diego has the support it needs to thrive, including infrastructure, networking, professional development, and business-friendly government regulations.”

VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, has a long history as a Biocom member. In the early 90s, Dr. Harman ran HTI Bio-Services, a contract research company, and regularly networked with other local biotech CEOs and entrepreneurs. Regarding those early days as a Biocom member, Dr. Harman stated, “These were exciting times not only because of technical innovation, but also because we were forming a community that helped to advance medicine and create a vital segment in the local and regional economy.”

VetStem endeavors to stay at the forefront of the field. Founded in 2002, VetStem is the first US-based commercial veterinary adipose stem cell company. We have processed fat tissue from nearly 14,000 patients resulting in over 30,000 stem cell treatments. In 2018, we utilized our over 15 years of experience and data in veterinary medicine to spin out a human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc. We also just announced the launch of our contract cell manufacturing business, which we will discuss in an upcoming blog. We are very proud to be a longtime member of Biocom and of our contributions to the biotech community.

Share