Apr 16, 2021

Agility Dog Successfully Treated with VetStem Cell Therapy

Posted by Bob under VetStem Cell Therapy

Kirby is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who has been competing in agility since he was just one and a half years old. Several years ago, he began experiencing intermittent lameness in his hind end, most notably in his hips and left knee. He was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and cruciate ligament injuries.

A corgi dog jumping over a bar during an agility competition
Kirby

Because he is such an active dog, his owner pursued several treatment options to help him feel more comfortable. Initially, he was treated with cold laser therapy, underwater treadmill, and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. This combination would help Kirby for a little while and then he would go back to being lame. Next, his mom pursued treatment with platelet therapy. Kirby received concentrated platelet injections into both hips and both knees. His mom reported that he responded well, and the results lasted for a year after the platelet injections.

But after that year, Kirby was sore again. That is when his mom elected to have Kirby treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. His veterinarian collected fat tissue from his abdomen in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. His mom described the procedure as such, “The minor surgery to harvest the fat was easy and he recovered quickly.” VetStem laboratory technicians processed Kirby’s fat to concentrate and extract his stem and regenerative cells. Kirby’s stem cell injections were sent back to his veterinarian for treatment. He received one injection into each hip, each knee, and also intravenously.

Approximately two months after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, Kirby was doing much better. According to his mom, he was able to return to agility, competing about once a month with an 80% qualifying rate. In addition, he hikes 12-15 miles with his mom each week. She stated, “I’m so grateful to VetStem for their help and that they have his cells in storage so we can give him more injections in the future if needed!!”

Kirby’s treatment was nearly two years ago and according to his mom, he was still doing well and competing in agility trials as of late 2020. He has not required a repeat injection of stem cells to date!

If you think your dog may benefit from stem cell therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Apr 9, 2021

Can VetStem Cell Therapy Help Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

There are a multitude of diseases outside of orthopedic conditions for which treatment with stem cells has been successful, while others do not respond as well. At VetStem, we work with veterinarians and their pet owners on a case-by-case basis to determine if stem cell therapy may be a viable treatment option. Oftentimes, these patients have diseases that are challenging to treat or current standard therapies are lacking in clinical data. One of these diseases is canine atopic dermatitis (also known as allergic dermatitis or atopy).

What is Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD) is what most dog owners call “allergies.” The primary symptom is itchiness, usually in the feet, face, ears, armpits, front legs, and/or abdomen. Scratching and licking can lead to hair loss, hotspots or other irritations, skin thickening and more. Secondary skin infections and/or ear infections can develop and make symptoms worse.

CAD is a genetic disease that predisposes a dog to certain allergen sensitivities. The allergen(s) are environmental such as pollens, molds, dust mites, dander from other animals (yes, even human dander) or normal skin organisms. While there is still much to learn about CAD disease, we have learned that atopic dermatitis occurs due to a skin barrier defect, which allows allergens to absorb deeper into the skin where the immune system can access them. Thus, when an atopic dog comes into contact with the offending allergen(s), their body creates a skewed immune response leading to an allergic reaction. It is worth mentioning that the symptoms of CAD are very similar to those caused by food allergies or flea allergies and some patients may be affected by more than one condition. Your veterinarian is your best resource for determining if CAD is the cause of your dog’s itchiness.

Traditional Treatments for CAD

In an ideal world, allergic dogs would avoid the allergens they are sensitive to, but CAD allergens are often airborne and thus, even staying indoors does not eliminate exposure. Frequent bathing is helpful in removing the allergens from the skin and allergy desensitization injections can be tailored to each dog after extensive allergy testing is performed, however both of these treatments require much time and effort that some families may not be able to accommodate. While more innovative treatments have been developed in recent years such as oral medications or canine antibody injections, truly effective treatment options remain limited, may be expensive, and do not cure the condition but rather control the “itchiness” symptom. CAD is a lifelong disease that will require lifelong management.

Stem Cells for CAD – Mechanisms of Action

One tool that stem cells utilize is immunomodulation, or the ability to modify the immune response. Since there is an immune component to atopic dermatitis, it is theorized that stem cells can down-regulate a dog’s immune response and therefore, his/her body may not overreact to specific allergens and he/she will not become overly itchy.

Stem Cells for CAD – The Research is Limited

There are very few studies on the use of adipose derived stem cells to treat canine atopic dermatitis. And the two most relevant studies reached conflicting results. While one study showed no significant improvement of clinical signs or symptoms, the second study showed significant improvement. In addition, results from the second study lasted for at least six months. Because studies are limited, we can not say for certain that stem cells improve symptoms in dogs with atopic dermatitis.

What about anecdotal evidence?

Multiple veterinarians have utilized VetStem Cell Therapy for atopy in both dogs and cats. Some veterinarians have reported an improvement in symptoms after treatment with stem cells. In some cases, patients have required less allergy medication than before stem cell therapy. That being said, some patients have not experienced improvement in symptoms. So, while we can’t say that stem cells will help every dog with atopic dermatitis, we do believe that some benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy based on the responses reported from the veterinarians and owners who have implemented it.  

As always, it is important to note that each patient is different and therefore some may not respond at all to stem cell therapy. If you think your allergic dog may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to find a VetStem provider in your area.

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Apr 2, 2021

Walking to Reduce Your Dog’s Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Posted by Bob under Dog Osteoarthritis

Next Wednesday, April 7th, is National Walking Day! Did you know walking can help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs? Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis in dogs (and people!) and affects approximately one quarter of the canine population. It is a degenerative disease in which the cartilage within a joint breaks down, causing changes in the surrounding bone. Common symptoms of OA include pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. In dogs, the majority of OA cases stem from a developmental orthopedic disease such as joint dysplasia. It can also develop as a result of an injury such as a cruciate ligament tear.

And older woman walking a beagle dog on a leash in a grassy pasture

Exercise Reduces Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

While some may believe that reduced usage of the affected joint will lead to improvement of symptoms, it appears the opposite is true. Studies have found that regular physical activity can actually benefit dogs with OA and lead to an improvement in symptoms.

The type of exercise is very important, however. For instance, high impact exercises such as running and jumping may lead to increased inflammation and pain and therefore should be limited. On the other hand, regular joint-friendly exercises are ideal for dogs with OA. These are low-impact and put less stress on the body, thereby reducing the risk of injury. Some joint-friendly exercises include swimming and leash walks.

Benefits of Walking for Dogs with Osteoarthritis

Walking can be a great way to keep dogs physically active. It is easy on their joints and comes with a number of benefits that can lead to healthier, less painful joints. Walking regularly can help dogs lose weight, thereby causing less stress on the joints. It can also help strengthen the muscles and supporting soft tissue structures around the joints, promoting increased joint stability. In addition, it increases joint fluid circulation which is beneficial to maintaining healthy joint cartilage.

Of course, every dog is different. So as always, it is best to check with your veterinarian to determine the best exercise routine for your dog.

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Mar 26, 2021

An Update on our Human Stem Cell Company

Posted by Bob under Human Stem Cells

For those of you who follow our blog, you probably know that we launched a human stem cell company in 2018. Click here for a refresher. Since then, Personalized Stem Cells (PSC) has received FDA approval for two investigational new drug (IND) applications. The first FDA approved clinical trial was for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis and is currently in the end stages. The second IND was for a COVID-19 clinical trial.

Knee Osteoarthritis Clinical Trial Update

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, PSC was able to successfully complete their first clinical trial in 2020. At the start of the pandemic, new patient enrollment was put on a brief hold. Once doctors were able to safely resume in-clinic procedures however, enrollment picked up again. By August 2020, PSC announced that patient enrollment was complete. Just a few short months later, the company announced that all clinical trial participants had received treatment.

Finally, in January, PSC announced that all the data was collected for the clinical trial and preparations for FDA submission began.  Once all of the data is submitted to the FDA, and assuming everything goes as planned, it is PSC’s goal to launch a larger, placebo-controlled knee trial later this year. Stay tuned for more information!

COVID-19 Clinical Trial Update

Another major accomplishment was receiving approval for a COVID-19 clinical trial. In the early days of the pandemic, PSC went to work to manufacture stem cells and secure FDA approval for a clinical trial to study the effects of stem cell therapy to treat COVID-19. We announced the news back in July here on the VetStem blog. But the good news didn’t stop there!

In October 2020, PSC entered into a licensing agreement with Sorrento Therapeutics and granted global rights to its allogeneic (donor-derived) stem cell program, including the COVID-19 clinical trial. This was a lucrative move for the company and allowed PSC experts to return focus to autologous (patient-derived) stem cell treatments.

Sorrento Therapeutics has reported positive preliminary results both in safety and efficacy for the COVID-19 clinical trial. At the time of announcement, four patients had completed stem cell treatment for COVID-19 and all four were discharged from the hospital. Additionally, there were no infusion related adverse events reported in any of the patients. Read more here.  


All in all, it was a challenging, yet rewarding year for our human stem cell company, and very promising for potential patients! We continue to be amazed at the power of regenerative medicine and look forward to PSC launching additional FDA approved clinical trials in 2021!

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Mar 19, 2021

Trinity Receives VetStem Cell Therapy for Feline Kidney Disease

Based on 15+ years of data, veterinarians primarily use VetStem Cell Therapy to treat dogs and horses. But cats have also benefited from stem cell therapy. In previous blogs, we have discussed stem cell therapy for various diseases in cats. For a good overview, read this blog.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Feline Kidney Disease

VetStem has processed nearly 400 feline fat samples to provide stem cells. Of these samples, over 50% have been for cats with kidney disease. Unfortunately, kidney failure may be the number one cause of sickness and death in older cats. Yet treatment options are limited and do not cure the disease.

Veterinarians have been treating feline kidney disease with VetStem Cell Therapy for over a decade. And we have seen some promising results! But nothing is as good as hearing about a kitty who experienced those results firsthand. This is Trinity’s story.

Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Plan

Trinity is a ragdoll cat who was diagnosed with renal failure when she was twelve years old. She had several symptoms including vomiting, not eating, lethargy, weakness, and weight loss. She was uninterested and spent a lot of time hiding. Her mom worked with several vets to find an effective treatment protocol for Trinity, but she continued to feel bad, and her blood kidney values kept going up.

Eventually, Trinity’s mom found Dr. Tamera Cole at The Animal Hospital at Steiner Ranch. Dr. Cole started Trinity on fluids and multiple medications to ease her symptoms and support her kidneys. Though Trinity’s mom noticed improvement, she continued to research additional treatment options.

Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

In her research, Trinity’s mom came across VetStem Cell Therapy and brought it up to Dr. Cole. Dr. Cole was already credentialed to perform the VetStem procedure and agreed that stem cell therapy may help Trinity.

She moved forward with the process and collected a sample of fat tissue from Trinity in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was processed at the VetStem laboratory and Trinity’s stem cells were extracted, concentrated, and divided into doses for treatment. Trinity received an intravenous dose of her own stem cells approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection procedure. She went on to receive a second intravenous dose approximately two weeks later.

A brown and white ragdoll cat sitting in front of a computer looking at the camera
Trinity

Trinity Gets Her Quality of Life Back

After stem cell therapy, Trinity’s owner maintained the previous treatment protocol with fluids and medications. Several months later, Dr. Cole tested Trinity’s blood work which showed no signs of kidney disease!

Her owner continued the treatment protocol and Trinity remained healthy, started eating again, and gained back all the weight she lost and more. Trinity’s mom stated, “I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to spend so many more years with Trinity. She is a continuous blessing in my life and as you can see from the picture, still shows up to work every day at my home office.”

Trinity is among several cats who have benefitted from VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease. Based upon data from a small number of feline patients treated with VetStem Cell Therapy, blood kidney values were slightly to moderately improved after treatment. More evaluation is necessary, however these preliminary results suggest that stem cell therapy may be a viable treatment option for cats with kidney disease.

If your cat is suffering with kidney disease, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area to determine if VetStem Cell Therapy may help your cat.

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Mar 12, 2021

VetStem Cell Therapy for Canine Muscle Injuries

March 13th is National K9 Veterans Day. This unofficial holiday was created to commemorate the service and sacrifices of all United States military and working dogs. Last year we shared the story of stem cell recipient Lex, the bomb-sniffing German Shepherd who was injured while on tour in Iraq. You can read Lex’s story here.

Honoring Police Dogs for K9 Veterans Day

For this year’s blog, we decided to focus on working dogs, or, more specifically, police dogs. These hard-working dogs must undergo intense training to become specialized in things such as explosive and drug detection as well as search and rescue. Two of the most utilized breeds are German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois.

Police officer in bullet proof vest with rifle and a Belgian Malinois Police Dog
Officer Washington with K-9 Jago

Due to the nature of their work, police dogs, otherwise known as K-9s, experience increased wear and tear on their joints, muscles, and other soft tissue structures. This may lead to osteoarthritis or injuries. If an injury is bad enough, early retirement can become inevitable. And at a price of $8,000+ per dog plus another $12,000 to $15,000 in training costs, it is important to keep these K-9s healthy and agile.

Muscle Injuries in Police Dogs

Muscle injuries are not uncommon in working and agility dogs. One injury we see in the K-9 is an injury to the semitendinosus muscle, which is part of the hamstring muscle group. Injury to this muscle can result in a buildup of fibrosis, or scar tissue, which causes the muscle to contract and shorten. This contracture leads to lameness and an abnormal gait in the affected dog.

This condition, known as semitendinosus myopathy, can be career-ending for working dogs. Traditional treatments include rest, medication, rehabilitation, and surgery. Unfortunately, none of these methods have been fully successful, and many dogs do not return to their full activity.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Semitendinosus Myopathy

When a disease or condition lacks effective treatment options, we often wonder if stem cell therapy may help. So, as we are known to do, we investigated the use of stem cells for semitendinosus myopathy. And the results were incredibly promising! In a study of eight working police K-9s diagnosed with semitendinosus myopathy, treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy helped all eight dogs return to active police work. In addition, each dog’s gait returned to normal.

As with any condition, each patient is different. And VetStem Cell Therapy may not be the best option for all patients. If your dog has experienced a muscle injury, speak to your veterinarian to determine if VetStem Cell Therapy may help your dog. Or contact us to find a VetStem provider in your area.

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Mar 5, 2021

Against All Odds: A Tribute to Kingsley

Kingsley, a rottweiler, found his family in the emergency room. His mom, Dr. Bethany Mullins, was an ER veterinarian when Kingsley came in as a puppy. Despite the fact that he was an amputee with only three legs, Dr. Mullins adopted Kingsley immediately.

A black and brown dog with 3 legs lying on his back on a couch.
Kingsley

As a front let amputee, Kingsley’s remaining front leg was under extra stress. And when he was just eleven months old, he was diagnosed with osteoarthritis as a result of elbow dysplasia. Dr. Mullins reported that Kingsley could barely walk and due to the severity of his condition, surgery was not an option for him. Fortunately, the veterinary surgeon suggested treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.

Kingsley’s first stem cell treatment was in July 2010. He received one injection into his affected elbow and one intravenous injection. According to his mom, within two weeks he was running with her other dogs and playing fetch. Kingsley went on to receive follow-up injections of his own stem cells approximately six months and one year after his initial treatment.

After his third round of stem cell injections in August 2011, Kingsley went approximately five and a half years before requiring another stem cell treatment in early 2017. In the ten years since his initial injections, Kingsley received a total of eight follow-up stem cell treatments. According to his mom, Kingsley’s life expectancy was a mere three years due to the severity of his condition. But with the help of his veterinarian mom and his stem cells, Kingsley lived to be twelve years old.

A blonde woman, Dr. Bethan Mullins, leans in for a kiss from a black and brown dog.
Dr. Bethany Mullins and Kingsley

Unfortunately, Kingsley passed away earlier this year. His mom described him as the sweetest, most gentle dog, stating, “He even went to a preschool class for a presentation about being a veterinarian and was wonderful with the children.” Dr. Mullins went on to say, “You truly saved Kingsley’s life…He lived a full life because of his stem cell injections over the years…I am an ER veterinarian, so I don’t do a lot of stem cell therapy in my department. But I’m a true believer, having had it for myself at one time, and I believe what you are doing is the future of many solutions to diseases that have confounded us. Please keep doing what you’re doing.”

It is stories like Kingsley’s that keep us doing what we are doing. When we hear about dogs like Kingsley, who were dealt a bad hand in life, but came back against all odds after having stem cell therapy, we cannot help but be immensely proud of and grateful for this technology we have developed. We hope that Kingsley is getting all the belly rubs and kisses on the other side of that rainbow bridge.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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