May 29, 2020

VetStem Biopharma Centennial Club

As the first company in the United States to provide adipose-derived stem cell processing services to veterinarians and their patients, VetStem pioneered the use of regenerative stem cells in veterinary medicine. Since 2003, VetStem has trained nearly 5,000 veterinarians across the United States and Canada to perform VetStem Cell Therapy. We have processed fat samples for over 14,000 patients and 30 different species of animals.

Twelve of our VetStem trained veterinarians have provided VetStem services for over 100 of their patients. The “Centennial Club,” as we like to call them, are among the most experienced adipose-derived stem cell providers in the country. Seven of the Centennial Club members are small animal veterinarians while the other five are equine veterinarians. The Centennial Club members are:

Small Animal
Dr. Kim Carlson of North Peninsula Veterinary Surgical Group
Dr. Jamie Gaynor of Peak Performance Veterinary Group
Dr. Jeff Christiansen of Superior Veterinary Surgical Solutions
Dr. Allyson Berent of Animal Medical Center of New York
Dr. Adam Gassel of Blue Pearl Pet Hospital of Irvine
Dr. Keith Clement of Burnt Hills Veterinary Hospital
Dr. Tim McCarthy formerly of Cascade Veterinary Referral Center

Equine
Dr. Ross Rich of Regenerative Therapy Consulting
Dr. Martin Gardner of Western Performance Equine
Dr. John McCarroll of Equine Medical Associates
Dr. Bill Hay of Tryon Equine Hospital
Dr. Scott Reiners of Mountain View Equine Hospital

Each of the above veterinarians has made VetStem Cell Therapy an integral part of their veterinary practice. They are all experienced in case selection and have seen many positive outcomes. We think it’s worth mentioning that two of the above veterinarians have reached even bigger milestones. Dr. Martin Gardner has surpassed 500 stem cell cases and Dr. John McCarroll has over 250 stem cell cases. Additionally, there are four more veterinarians who are approaching 100 stem cell cases.

Stem cells are regenerative cells that can differentiate into many tissue types. In both small animals and horses, stem cell therapy is most often used to treat orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis and injured tendons and ligaments. VetStem Cell Therapy has shown to reduce pain and lameness and improve quality of life and return to work for horses. If you would like to locate a VetStem provider near you, please contact us.

Share
May 22, 2020

VetStem CEO Joins ACRM Board of Directors

The American College of Regenerative Medicine (ACRM) has asked VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, to join their board of directors. As the CEO and co-founder of both VetStem and human subsidiary, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc. (PSC), Dr. Harman has nearly two decades of experience working with stem cells and regenerative medicine.

VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman

The first of its kind, the ACRM is a multi-specialty, interdisciplinary medical organization. The ACRM was formed to promote the science and ethical use of regenerative medicine with a strong emphasis on global interdisciplinary collaboration. Board members include medical doctors and surgeons, a dentist, a registered nurse and our very own veterinarian, Dr. Harman.

The ACRM’s mission statement encompasses everything from physician and patient education to safety and scientific advancement. While regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy is not new, there is still much to learn about regenerative cell therapies. The ACRM is fully committed to patient safety and a high standard of care. Like VetStem and PSC, the ACRM advocates for patient safety by following FDA guidelines and maintaining compliance.

The interdisciplinary focus of the ACRM will allow for the amalgamation of knowledge and expertise from doctors across multiple fields. Dr. Harman brings nearly two decades of experience with regenerative medicine in the veterinary field to share. With the launch of PSC in 2018, Dr. Harman can also provide insight into human regenerative medicine and FDA approved stem cell clinical trials. We hope this “One Medicine” approach will ultimately lead to understanding regenerative cell therapies more fully and open the door for additional FDA approved regenerative treatment options.

Share
May 15, 2020

The Importance of Storing Stem Cells

Posted by Bob under Dog Stem Cells, Stem Cell Storage

At VetStem, we have the potential to store stem cells from each patient whose fat we process. It is our general protocol to store a small number of stem cells from each fat sample for potential future use. Known as the Retention Sample, this small number of cells affords us the ability to provide stem cell treatments for the life of the patient from whom the cells came. More on that later.

Storage of Stem Cell Doses for Future Use

In addition to the Retention Sample, VetStem has the ability to store any unused stem cell doses from the initial stem cell process. How does this work exactly? Let’s say your dog has bilateral hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis and your veterinarian plans to give your dog an injection of stem cells directly into each hip as well as an intravenous injection. Three injections equals three doses. But suppose the fat sample from your dog had enough cells to provide six doses. Well, those extra three doses would then be cryopreserved for potential future use. And then down the line, if your dog started showing signs of discomfort, your veterinarian could request those three doses for a second stem cell treatment.

The Retention Sample Can Be Used to Provide More Doses

In keeping with this same scenario, your dog has now had two rounds of treatment, three injections each time. Therefore, all six doses from the initial fat processing have now been used. That is where the Retention Sample comes in. Our standard protocol is to store a small number of cells from every fat sample that we process. For a fee, the Retention Sample can be put into culture to grow more stem cells. The cultured stem cells will be genetically identical to your dog’s original stem cells. And once the culture process is complete (it takes approximately 3-4 weeks), your dog will have usable stem cell doses again.

Cryopreservation of Stem Cells

Cryopreservation of stem cells allows the cells to maintain their functional properties. When stored at very low temperatures, the cells can be stored for long periods. Normal biological processes are slowed allowing the regenerative properties of stem cells to remain intact. Cryopreserved cells will last the lifetime of your pet.

With the ability to culture and store extra stem cell doses, your pet should only have to undergo one fat collection procedure. Having extra doses available for use also eliminates waiting time. We ship stem cell doses out Monday through Friday and can work with short notice in most cases. This is especially beneficial for some of the animals who are battling life threatening conditions such as kidney disease.

If your pet has cells stored at VetStem and you have questions regarding those stored cells, do not hesitate to contact us! We can be reached by phone at 858-748-2004, email, or through our contact page. Alternatively, if you would like to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area, contact us here.

Share
May 8, 2020

An Update Regarding Pets and COVID-19

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

In a recent blog, we discussed animals from around the world who tested positive for COVID-19. To summarize, the number of positive cases were few and all shared one commonality: they were in close contact with a human caregiver/owner who was infected with COVID-19. Of the small number of cases, even fewer showed clinical signs. While one 17-year-old dog passed away, it was presumed that he died from ongoing health issues and other age-related concerns. The rest of the animals recovered, or were expected to recover, without incident. According to the CDC, “Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”

Lion at the Bronx Zoo

In the weeks since that blog was published, a small number of new cases have been reported. As reported in the previous blog, the first case that was confirmed and reported in the United States was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. The tiger, along with several other large cats, developed a dry cough and reduced appetite. One of the affected large cats, a lion, was tested a few weeks after the tiger and tested positive for COVID-19. It is believed that the animals were infected by a human caregiver who did not have symptoms but was actively shedding the virus. The affected cats are reported to be recovering well and no other animals at the zoo have shown symptoms.

Two Cats in New York

In addition, two domestic cats in New York have now tested positive for COVID-19. The cats were from different households and cities and both showed symptoms of respiratory disease. One cat lives in a household with an owner who has COVID-19 and a second cat that has had no clinical signs of illness.

The second cat to test positive for COVID-19 in New York is an indoor/outdoor cat. The cat does not live with an owner who has a confirmed case of COVID-19. It is suspected that this cat contracted COVID-19 from an owner who was asymptomatic or from contact with the virus outside of the home.

Pug in North Carolina

Making headlines recently was a pug in North Carolina who showed symptoms of respiratory disease and tested positive for COVID-19. The pug’s human family all have COVID-19 however another dog and a cat in the same house were negative. His owners stated, “(The dog) licks all of our dinner plates and sleeps in my mom’s bed, and we’re the ones who put our faces into his face. So, it makes sense that he got (coronavirus).” Confirmatory testing is still being conducted at USDA’s National Veterinary Service Laboratory. If those tests are confirmed, the case will be reported to the OIE – the World Organization for Animal Health. Winston, the pug, is already doing better.

The number of animals who have tested positive for COVID-19 remains low, thus the CDC does not currently recommend routine testing. If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of infection, call your veterinary provider. If you or a family member is sick, the CDC recommends you avoid contact and practice cleanliness when interacting with your pets. The CDC also recommends keeping cats indoors and dogs on leashes, avoiding interaction between your pets and other pets/humans, and avoiding places like dog parks and other areas where people and dogs gather.

Share
May 1, 2020

PSC Prepares to Launch COVID-19 Clinical Trial – You Can Help

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Stem Cell Therapy

Our human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc. (PSC), recently announced that they filed a request with the FDA for expedited review of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with stem cells. PSC was asked by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to apply for expedited review through a new FDA program called the Coronavirus Therapeutic Accelerator Program (CTAP). CTAP was launched to help expedite the approval process of clinical trials for promising COVID-19 therapies.

Stem Cells for COVID-19

Recent studies evaluating the effects of stem cell therapy in COVID-19 patients have come out of China and Israel showing strikingly positive results. Stem cells have anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to reduce scar tissue formation. Stem cell therapy has the potential to reduce the serious lung complications that occur as a result of infection with COVID-19. The goal of treatment is to reduce time spent in the ICU, reduce ventilator needs, and increase chances of survival for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

PSC has scaled up production of stem cells in their FDA-inspected facilities to be ready to provide stem cell treatments upon FDA approval. If approved, the initial COVID-19 clinical trial, termed “CoronaStem 1,” will provide treatment for twenty hospitalized COVID-19 patients with serious complications. The first trial will be conducted in a limited number of local San Diego hospitals. PSC anticipates additional approvals and potential compassionate use in the future to allow for many more patients to be treated.

How can you help?

As a small business, PSC is utilizing their own resources to ramp up stem cell production. However, supplies and laboratory technicians are necessary to further increase production of stem cells. PSC plans to provide stem cell treatments to COVID-19 patients at no cost to the patient which requires additional money to pay the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who will be performing the clinical trial. Thus, PSC is reaching out to the public for donations to help in this fight against COVID-19. Your tax-deductible donation will allow PSC to provide stem cell treatments for as many COVID-19 patients as possible. All donations will go towards increasing stem cell production and paying doctors, nurses, technicians, and all those involved in performing the medical procedures for the clinical trial.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all, many of us are looking for ways in which we can help. PSC has partnered with the San Diego Foundation, a 501c3 organization, to collect tax-deductible donations to further PSC’s efforts. Learn more about how your donation can help PSC fight COVID-19.

You can make a difference! Click here to donate today.

Share
Apr 24, 2020

Shepherd Discontinues NSAIDs After Stem Cell Therapy

At approximately six years old, Opus, a German Shepherd, began showing symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA). He was diagnosed with bilateral hip OA as a result of hip dysplasia. He was prescribed pain medication as well as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to help keep him comfortable. These medications were effective for approximately two years before Opus started to show signs of discomfort again.

Opus’ veterinarian, Dr. Jerrold Bausman of VCA Veterinary Specialists of the Valley, recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. To begin the process, Dr. Bausman collected fat tissue from Opus’ abdomen in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was processed at the VetStem laboratory to extract Opus’ stem and regenerative cells for injectable stem cell doses. At approximately eight years old, Opus received injections of his own stem cells into each hip joint.

Opus Regains Mobility and Discontinues NSAIDs

Opus

According to his Owner, Opus had a great response to VetStem Cell Therapy. Opus’ owner stated, “Opus runs around the yard as if he were a 3-year-old. I’m very happy with the procedure.” Opus was also able to discontinue his use of NSAIDs after stem cell therapy. This is significant because NSAID use may lead to negative side effects such as gastrointestinal upset and organ damage.

Treatment Rationale: Stem Cells for Osteoarthritis Caused by Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is defined as a deformed hip joint. The deformity causes instability and abnormal movement in the joint which eventually leads to bone changes and loss of cartilage. The damage caused by hip dysplasia results in pain and inflammation in the joint and associated limb. Stem cells have the ability to down regulate both inflammation and pain. Stem cells also have regenerative properties which may lead to tissue (cartilage, bone) regrowth.

If your dog has discomfort related to osteoarthritis, speak with your veterinarian about the possibility of treating with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

Share
Apr 17, 2020

COVID-19 in Animals: What We Know So Far

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

As we all follow along with the updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that this is an ever-changing situation. As experts continue to learn about this novel coronavirus, we must take special caution so as to not spread misinformation. In light of recent reports that a few animals have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes coronavirus disease or COVID-19), we think it is important to address the rising concerns of the general animal owning population and compile important and factual information regarding pets and COVID-19.

Reputable Sources

First, we must stress the importance of reputable sources. Organizations such as the CDC and AVMA are trusted sources that are providing up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. You can find information from the CDC regarding COVID-19 and animals here and information from the AVMA here. It is important to note that both sites make the following statement: There is no evidence to suggest that pets can spread COVID-19 to people or other pets.

So, what do we know so far regarding COVID-19 and animals? According to the AVMA and the CDC, there is a small number of pets who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 outside of the U.S.

Confirmed Cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Pets Outside of U.S.

The first case of an animal testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 was a dog in Hong Kong. The dog’s owner was diagnosed with COVID-19 and had close contact with the dog. A second dog in the house tested negative and the positive 17-year-old dog with ongoing health issues, who died shortly after being released from quarantine, never showed signs of illness. The second reported case was also in Hong Kong. Like the first case, this dog lives with an owner who has COVID-19. A second dog in the house continues to test negative for SARS-CoV-2 and the infected dog has had no symptoms.

The third reported case was a cat in Belgium. Like the two dogs, this cat also lives with an owner who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The cat was showing respiratory and digestive symptoms and both vomit and fecal matter tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. That being said, there are many unknowns surrounding this particular case. According to the AVMA, “Because other etiologic causes for the cat’s illness appear to have not been excluded and little is known about the samples in which viral material was detected, a clear link between the presence of viral material and clinical signs consistent with coronavirus infection cannot be established. The condition of the cat reportedly improved 9 days after onset of clinical signs.”

A second cat, located in Hong Kong, also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Like the previous pets, this cat also lives with an owner who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The cat is in quarantine and is showing no symptoms of the disease.

Tiger Tests Positive for SARS-CoV-2 in New York

Perhaps most important to us in the U.S., is the recent news that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The tiger was tested after several big cats developed a dry cough. It is believed that the tiger contracted the virus from an animal caretaker that was asymptomatic but actively shedding the virus. According to the zoo spokesperson, the affected cats have experienced a decrease in appetite but are otherwise doing well and are expected to make a full recovery. At this time, there are no other reports of sick animals at the Bronx Zoo.

What does this mean for pet owners?

It is important to note that only 2 of the 5 animals listed above that tested positive for the virus after exposure from a human caregiver/owner with COVID-19 showed any symptoms of respiratory disease and none appear to be significant as it is in people. However, if you or a family member have tested positive for COVID-19, the CDC and AVMA recommend restricting contact with pets just like you would with other people. When possible, have a healthy family member care for your pets. If you must care for your animals while sick, the CDC recommends washing your hands before and after interacting with them. Avoid contact such as petting, snuggling, being kissed/licked, and sharing food.

We feel it is important to once again note that both the CDC and AVMA have reported that there is no evidence to suggest that pets can spread COVID-19 to people. This continues to be a rapidly developing situation, so we encourage you to check the CDC and AVMA websites frequently for updates.

Share
Apr 10, 2020

Zoo Animal Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

As you may know, VetStem has worked with several wild animal organizations over the years.  One example is Francis, a Sun Bear at the San Diego Zoo who received VetStem Cell Therapy.  Like dogs, cats, and horses, exotic animals are near and dear to us.  We previously posted a blog about caring for your dogs and cats during the COVID-19 pandemic but what about the zoo animals?

Due to the current stipulations in place regarding social distancing, zoos and aquariums across the United States have closed to the public.  While non-essential employees may be working from home, the animals still need care.  The animal care staff continues to provide routine care to the best of their ability.  Non-emergency procedures have been postponed, such as preventative care and routine vaccinations, in cases where the procedures require more than one person to work closely together.  But otherwise, the care continues.

Due to interruptions in supply chains, some food sources might become scarce or temporarily unavailable.  While this might sound scary, zoos and aquariums have safeguards in place to help prevent this from becoming a problem.  For instance, the platypuses, which are currently on display at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, are very picky eaters and prefer live crayfish.  Zookeepers are working with the animals to introduce various options into their diets, should live crayfish become unavailable.

While we continue to live in unprecedented and uncertain times, rest assured knowing the animals we love so much are being well cared for.  Zoos have said the animal caretakers are providing extra enrichment opportunities and exercises to help make up for the lack of interaction from visitors.  In fact, several zoos and aquariums have set up live broadcasts and videos showing various animals.  In one exceptionally cute video from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL, the resident penguins take a trip to meet the beluga whales.  We encourage you to check your local zoo’s website or Facebook page for fun and interactive videos.  Or you can view some of the larger zoos’ videos such as the San Diego Zoo’s Live Cams or the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Webcams.

Francis
Share
Apr 3, 2020

How Animals Are Helping Humans During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Translational Medicine

In previous blogs, we have discussed the concept of translational medicine.  That is, when successes in one branch of medicine influence and translate into advances made in another branch of medicine.  We are a veterinary company with a sister human company, therefore we specifically focus on the way veterinary medicine translates to human medicine; a concept we refer to as “One Medicine.”  Recently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen several instances in which the veterinary community has assisted human healthcare providers.

Veterinarians Helping Human Doctors

While the current climate in which we are living has tested many of us, we have also seen people come together in ways that are truly unprecedented.  There have been several news stories highlighting the ways in which veterinarians are helping human doctors.  According to one article, veterinary hospitals in several states have donated or lent vital equipment and supplies to help human doctors in the fight against COVID-19.  These supplies include ventilators, masks, and gowns, all of which are or may be in short supply.  

According to the American Veterinary Medical association (AVMA), conservation of personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns, and gloves is critical due to the increased demand and subsequent shortage.  The AVMA, CDC, and FDA have all provided strategies for conserving personal protective equipment and veterinarians have already implemented protocols to conserve these essential supplies.  For instance, several veterinary hospitals have restricted or completely ceased all elective surgical procedures and have taken steps to minimize contact with pet owners, thus reducing the need for personal protective equipment.

Use of Animal Data to Develop COVID-19 Vaccine

Translational medicine is not new, however it tends to stand out in trying times like these.  In a previous blog, we discussed the use of animal data when developing a new human drug or technology.  According to a press release from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), scientists have already begun a Phase 1 clinical trial to test a potential COVID-19 vaccine.  The vaccine being tested has shown promise in animal models and this is the first time it is being tested in humans.

One Medicine

In these unprecedented times, we are seeing communities and people come together to help one another in ways some of us never thought possible.  While veterinarians all over the U.S. are doing their part to assist in the fight against COVID-19, we at VetStem have also joined the fight.  In an effort to reduce person-to-person contact, several of our employees have been working from home.  It is important to note however that as a provider of critical medicines, our laboratory continues to operate and process all stem cell requests.  Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Share
Mar 27, 2020

Caring for Pets During Self-Isolation

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

With the current COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures being enacted, many of us find ourselves working from home and spending most, if not all, of our time indoors.  According to the most recent report from the AVMA, nearly 57% of all US households own a pet.  So, while some may be worried about maintaining a healthy lifestyle, what about our furry friends? 

Maintaining physical exercise is not only important for ourselves but for our pets as well.  In a previous blog, we discussed the potential benefits of regular walks for your dog.  Follow local ordinances regarding social distancing and use your best judgement when it comes to exercising your dog outside during the current pandemic.  If you find that you cannot continue your usual routine, consider additional ways to keep your pet active.

Playing games such as fetch and tug-of-war may be good ways to keep your dog both physically and mentally stimulated.  Toys that require your dog to chew or uncover treats can also help with mental stimulation.  Similarly, cats may also enjoy playing with toys as a form of physical and mental stimulation.  Additionally, there are many videos online that show how to teach your dog or cat new tricks.

It may also be a wise decision to consider an emergency kit for your pets.  Your kit can include food, treats, medications, toys, blanket or bed, and anything that you might need for your pet.  Many veterinary hospitals remain open however several have modified services and/or hours.  Check with your veterinarian to determine if they are still open and what their current operating protocol is so that you can plan accordingly.    

The good news is the CDC is currently reporting that there is no evidence that companion animals can spread, or are a source of, COVID-19.  See our recent blog for more information on COVID-19 and pets.  And as a reminder to our clients and potential clients, as a critical medicines provider, VetStem remains open to process all stem cell requests.  Click here to locate a VetStem provider in your area.

Share