Jul 12, 2019

Meet Our Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Carolyn Wrightson.

Posted by Bob under VetStem Biopharma

This week we would like to introduce you to a vital member of our team: our Chief Operating Officer Dr. Carolyn Wrightson.  Dr. Wrightson has been with VetStem since 2006 though she has over 20 years of experience in biochemistry, molecular biology, and molecular pathology.  She started out as our Director of Lab Operations and Quality Services.  She continues to manage our two laboratories as well as our Research and Development team.

Dr. Wrightson received her BS from Mount St. Mary’s College in Biology and Biochemistry in 1991, her MS from USC in Pathology in 1993, and her PhD from USC in Pathology in 1996.  She also completed a Post-Doc at The Scripps Research Institute in Molecular and Experimental Medicine.  Paired with CEO Dr. Bob Harman’s expert knowledge and determination to develop and improve the stem cell industry, Dr. Wrightson’s expertise is a driving force behind the ongoing development of our off-the-shelf stem cell drug as well as the recent launch of our human stem cell company, which we discussed in a recent blog

As you may have noticed in our blogs about our Director of Commercial Operations and our Director of Clinical Development, most of our employees wear many hats at VetStem.  So, while Dr. Wrightson is busy managing both our commercial and manufacturing laboratories, she also serves as our unofficial IT liaison as well as our building maintenance manager.  If a computer gets a virus or the air conditioner stops working, Dr. Wrightson is on the phone organizing a technician to come fix the problem.

In her spare time (most of us are amazed she even has spare time) Dr. Wrightson enjoys spending time with her two children Tehya, who is 15, and Kaiden who is 7, as well as with her husband Shane.  She travels to volleyball competitions with Tehya and gardens with Kaiden. She enjoys baking and crocheting.  She also has four dogs: Alejandro, Ryder, Koda, and Jasper, and two birds: Mango and Skittles.

Dr. Wrightson’s ability to manage multiple priorities at once is second to none.  Her knowledge and expertise, along with her incredible work ethic, makes her an extremely valuable part of the VetStem team.  Thank you, Dr. Wrightson, for your hard work and dedication!

Carolyn and Tehya
Shane and Kaiden
Jasper and Koda
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Jun 28, 2019

Translational Medicine: How Animals Are Helping Humans

VetStem was recently featured in a documentary about Regenerative Veterinary Medicine called Animal Pharm: Where Beasts Meet Biotech.  We’ll share more about this soon, but one interesting aspect of the film is the commentary on how advances made in veterinary medicine are translating into the human medical field.

It’s not an uncommon narrative: a new medial technology or drug emerges in the veterinary field and after research and outcome data are compiled, scientists and doctors begin to wonder how humans may benefit from the same technology.  Known as translational medicine, Animal Pharm takes a look at how we’ve begun to apply what we know about stem cell therapy for animals to human medicine.

As a leader in the field of Regenerative Veterinary Medicine, VetStem strives to remain one step ahead and we recently announced the launch of our human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc. (PSC).  PSC was launched to advance and legitimize human regenerative medicine, which until recently, has been largely unregulated.  Recent regulatory action by the FDA, FTC, and the Federation of State Medical Boards has made it clear however that the only allowed use of stem cells will be through legitimate FDA clinical trials.

As such, PSC plans to launch FDA approved human stem cell clinical trials later this year.  The company recently announced their first Investigational New Drug application to the FDA for the treatment of osteoarthritis in the knee.  If you are interested in more information, you can contact PSC here.

These are exciting times we’re living in.  Though our primary goal has been to improve the lives of animals, it was always in the back of our minds that the technology we’ve worked so hard to develop and advance might one day be able to help humans also.  We are excited to see this dream becoming a reality.

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Jun 21, 2019

Meet Sue, VetStem’s Director of Clinical Development

In this week’s “Meet VetStem” blog series, we introduce you to Sue, our Director of Clinical Development.  Sue has been with VetStem from the get-go and with her level of experience, she wears many hats.  In her role as Director of Clinical Development, Sue helps Dr. Bob Harman and Kristi oversee the compassionate use stem cell cases.  She also handles the exotic animal cases such as Francis, the sun bear from the San Diego Zoo.  In addition to this, Sue works closely with our Quality Assurance and R&D teams to conduct and manage clinical studies and collect and analyze post-study data.  Perhaps one of her most important roles at VetStem is that of Animal Safety Advocate.  In this role, Sue oversees the safety of all patients treated with VetStem Cell Therapy to identify and remedy any potential risks associated with treatment.

Sue has a BS from UC Davis and is a Certified Animal Health Technician.  Prior to joining VetStem, Sue worked in various animal and scientific fields.  Her animal experience ranges from grooming and training dogs to working with dairy cattle and pigs.  She has trained her own dogs in various activities including obedience, scent hurdle racing, herding, and agility but mostly just how to be a pleasant part of the family.  Animals have been a part of her family for as long as she can remember including dogs, cats, birds, and horses.

Sue and Dr. Harman share two adult children, Kristi and Kevin, both of which were homeschooled at various points in time before college.  They currently own 6 cats, 3 dogs, 2 horses, and several birds.  Two of their dogs, Ben and Sally (pictured below), can be seen hanging around the VetStem office on a regular basis.  In her free time, Sue enjoys trail walks, especially near bodies of water.  She also enjoys studying about various holistic therapies and tries to apply them to herself and her family, both 2 and 4 legged.

Sue’s commitment to patient safety and quality assurance is unparalleled.  With her level of knowledge and attention to detail, Sue is an essential member of the VetStem team.  Thank you, Sue for your hard work and dedication!

 

Sue

Kristi and Kevin

Sally

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Jun 14, 2019

Can Stem Cells be Used in Patients with Cancer?

Cancer is a diagnosis no pet owner wants to hear.  Occasionally pet owners will contact us to ask if VetStem Cell Therapy can be used to treat or cure their pet’s cancer.  Unfortunately, VetStem cells cannot be used to treat cancer.  But what about pet’s who have an orthopedic condition that may benefit from stem cell therapy who also have cancer?

As a precaution, we monitor the occurrence of cancer in patients treated with VetStem Cell Therapy closely and have not seen a higher incidence than what is reported in patients of the same age group that were not treated with stem cells.  The literature supports that adult stem cells do not directly turn into cancer cells.  There is also literature regarding stem cell therapy in women who have had mastectomies which shows no higher incidence of recurrence of cancer.

VetStem takes a conservative approach when it comes to patients with cancer because there is still a lot that we don’t know about stem cells and how they work so we err on the side of safety.  We do not recommend stem cell therapy for patients with active or recent cancer.

However, as pet owners ourselves, we understand that in some cases, the potential benefits of stem cell therapy may outweigh the potential risk in patients with active or recent cancer and therefore a pet owner may elect to move forward with stem cell therapy.  This decision is usually reached after a consultation between your veterinarian and a VetStem veterinarian and requires pet owners to sign a special waiver. Some things to consider when making this decision are: age of your pet, severity of the cancer, other medical conditions, and your pet’s current quality of life. There is also an option for patients with cancer to only receive joint injections and not an intravenous injection.

If you have any questions about stem cell therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact a VetStem representative.

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Jun 7, 2019

Meet Kristi, VetStem’s Director of Commercial Operations

Posted by Bob under uncategorized

This week, we’d like to introduce our readers to an integral part of the VetStem team: our Director of Commercial Operations.  Kristi has been with VetStem for nearly 11.5 years.  She started out as a Customer Service Representative and was quickly promoted to Customer Service Manager where she managed a small team of professionals and oversaw the day-to-day administrative operations.  After nearly seven years, she was promoted to Marketing Operations Manager where she managed all print and digital marketing as well as the coordination of trade shows and other events.  After just over a year, she took on additional sales responsibilities and began visiting local veterinary offices to coordinate with current clients and establish new clients.  Just under a year and a half later, Kristi was promoted to Director of Commercial Operations.

As the Director of Commercial Operations, Kristi oversees the Customer Service, Marketing, and Sales teams and works closely with VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, to manage the compassionate use (non-standard) stem cell cases.  As you may have guessed, Kristi is an essential part of the VetStem team, ensuring the day-to-day commercial operations are completed in an accurate and timely manner and that everything runs smoothly.  You may catch Kristi on the phone or via email, should you have questions regarding the use of stem cells for non-standard indications.

Prior to joining VetStem, Kristi worked in the veterinary field for nearly 11 years.  She has worked for a veterinary laboratory, a veterinary insurance company, and also as a practice manager in an all cat clinic.  From that clinic, Kristi adopted one of her cats, Pyewacket, an orange tabby who was a blood donor for sick cats at the clinic.

Kristi and her husband Josh share two children: Riley who is 15 and Elia Grace who is 7.  In addition to Pyewacket, who is now 19 years old, Kristi also has Phini and Scarf, two Oriental Short Hairs, who are fun and feisty.  Scarf, the baby of the three, loves his brother Pyewacket and likes to eat socks or any type of cloth.

 

Kristi and her family

Pyewacket and Scarf

Phini

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May 31, 2019

Stem Cell Banking

One of the services that VetStem provides is cell banking, or storage, of your pet’s extra stem cells.  Once the stem cells are extracted and concentrated from your dog’s, cat’s, or horse’s fat tissue, they are portioned into “doses” either for immediate use or for storage in cryopreservation tanks.

There are several reasons why we store any extra stem cells that aren’t needed for the initial treatment.  By storing your pet’s extra cells, your veterinarian will have the ability to request additional doses for future treatments if necessary.  Future treatments can be used if your pet’s condition causes discomfort again, if your pet gets re-injured, or even if your pet develops a new condition that was not previously treated.  Our friend Bodie, a longtime stem cell recipient, is a perfect example of why storing stem cells can be beneficial.

It is important to note that cell yields vary and not every patient has enough to store extra doses.  That being said, VetStem stores what we call a “Retention Sample” for nearly every patient.  The Retention Sample is a small number of your pet’s stem cells that is cryopreserved and saved for a potential future culture.  What this means is, if your pet uses up all of his/her stem cell doses, VetStem can use the Retention Sample to initiate a stem cell culture to grow more of your pet’s own stem cells.  This process takes a few weeks and does incur an additional charge however it allows us to potentially create a lifetime supply of stem cell doses for your pet. Both Bodie and Whisper have had their stem cells cultured so they may continue with treatment as needed.

Another benefit to storing your pet’s extra stem cells is that it eliminates the need for another fat collection procedure, should your pet require additional treatments.  This is especially important for older dogs and cats or patients who are otherwise not a good candidate for anesthesia.  By storing your pet’s extra cells and avoiding additional fat collection procedures, you are potentially saving money and reducing the amount of times your dog or cat has to undergo anesthesia.  Though horses do not require full anesthesia for the collection procedure, the fat collection is still a minor surgical procedure and thus incurs additional expense.

Clearly, there are many benefits to storing your pet’s extra stem cells.  VetStem stores each patient’s extra cells for one year at no extra charge.  After the first year there is a nominal fee, charged annually, to continue storage.  We also offer discounts if you pay for multiple years up front.  We occasionally get questions from owners regarding storage and whether or not they should continue.  Our advice is to consider the bigger picture.  For instance, does your dog or cat have an ongoing degenerative disease such as osteoarthritis that may worsen over time?  Is your dog or horse a performance or working animal that is at risk of getting injured?  If the answer is yes, then it is most likely in your (and your pet’s) best interest to continue your pet’s stem cell storage.

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May 24, 2019

Bodie Benefits from Routine Stem Cell Therapy

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Stem Cells

Bodie is a beautiful Springer Spaniel who, according to his owner, is a natural hunter “gifted with an uncanny sense of smell, unmatched drive and very strong muscle structure” making him hard to beat in competition.  At an early age, Bodie began showing signs of discomfort and his owners noticed he had trouble getting up.  X-rays confirmed that Bodie had hip dysplasia, a condition that leads to osteoarthritis in the hip joints.

When Bodie was around three years old, he had his hips treated with VetStem Cell Therapy by Dr. Mitch Luce, owner of Live Oak Veterinary Hospital in Sonora, CA.  Later that year, he went back into tournament hunting and, after winning the majority of his tournaments, Bodie won the US Bird Dog Association Western States Nationals at four years of age.

After his big win, Bodie’s owners elected to retire him from competition and restricted his hunting activities in an effort to reduce his risk of injury.  Bodie began hydrotherapy and continued with stem cell therapy, receiving treatment once to twice per year.  Bodie’s dad, Charlie, was so committed to Bodie’s well-being that he built him an at-home underwater treadmill, which he still uses.  In the summer months, Bodie also swims in the pool for exercise.  Charlie stated that, “Exercise is key to dealing with his condition. We would walk every morning.”

Now nine years old, Bodie has started to refuse his morning walks.  His owner noted, “Hills are painful for him so we don’t force it.  Although his condition was first noticed in his hips, his right elbow and left front foot are now noticeably arthritic.”  Fortunately for Bodie, his owners continue to have him treated with his banked stem cells every year.  He also receives Adequan injections and a low dose of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug once or twice per week.

Despite his arthritis, Bodie is still full of life.  His owner tells us about his daily routine: “Bodie has a built-in clock and enjoys a sense of purpose.  He starts our day at 5:30 when he wakes us to feed his yard birds.  Breakfast quickly follows then exercise at 9.  He fills his day checking on his pen birds, playing with his brother and following in the garden, helping himself to carrots when they are in season.  Promptly at 2:30 he reminds us to feed his yard birds again.  Dinner is at 4:20, again promptly.  By 5 he’s collected the collars to be put away on the hall rack.  He then settles in for the evening.”

His owner also shared this video of Bodie (liver and white) “lecturing the fish at the hatchery.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY1hvlw5Ryk&feature=youtu.be

Bodie’s case is a good example of an osteoarthritic dog who benefits from continued stem cell treatment.  While some dogs with osteoarthritis have one stem cell treatment and do not require another treatment for several years, it is also the case that some dogs will require routine treatment for the rest of their lives.  This is important to note when considering stem cell therapy for your arthritic pet.  Each animal responds differently to stem cell therapy and we want pet owners to have the proper expectations.  If you are considering stem cell therapy for your pet, speak to your veterinarian or contact VetStem for a list of stem cell providers in your area.

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May 17, 2019

Arthritic Bogey Resumes His Daily Walks

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Stem Cells

Bogey, a Labrador who is now ten years old, injured his cruciate ligaments in both knees when he was nine.  On top of that, he also has advanced arthritis in his left hip.  His mobility was so limited that he could barely walk and required assistance to do things like jump in the car and onto the couch.

According to Bogey’s mom, when he was first injured, they thought they might lose him.  Fortunately, Bogey’s veterinarian, Dr. Ava DeCozio of VCA Apache Junction Animal Hospital, recommended treatment with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.

Just three months after treatment, Bogey was back to his old self and was able to resume his daily walks to the park with mom.  You can read the rest of Bogey’s story here.

We recently checked in on Bogey and his mom reported that he continues to do well and is still going on his daily walks.  We’re so happy for Bogey and his family!

Though Bogey was facing multiple painful joints and limited mobility, stem cell therapy improved his quality of life.  According to his owner he got his energy and personality back and was like his old self again.  If you think your dog may benefit from stem cell therapy, speak to your veterinarian for more information.  Or you can contact us to locate a stem cell provider near you.

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May 10, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Dr. Nick Vitale, DVM

Posted by Bob under Dog Stem Cells, Platelet Therapy

For this week’s Veterinarian Highlight, we would like to introduce you to Dr. Nick Vitale of Heritage Animal Hospital in Dundee, MI.  Dr. Vitale received his BS in Zoology and his DVM from Michigan State University.  Though a relatively recent adopter of VetStem Cell Therapy, Dr. Vitale hit the ground running and has treated over 40 patients with stem cell therapy in less than a year and half.  And that doesn’t include the patients he has treated with Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET™)!

Though stem cells are primarily used to treat orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis and injured tendons or ligaments, Dr. Vitale has treated his patients for several “non-standard” indications as well including feline kidney disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

We spoke with Dr. Vitale to ask a few questions about how he uses regenerative medicine in his practice.

Why do you like stem cell therapy and what do you commonly use it for?

I like it for many reasons. I can help reduce a patient’s need for medicines that have bad secondary side effects. I can help multiple issues at once, vs an owner having to perform multiple orthopedic surgeries which can be very, very expensive when the owner only has so much to work with.

Ideally, I would love to perform stem cell therapy on each orthopedic patient I take care of from ACL injuries to OCD issues to medial coronoid disease, etc. If my own lab needed ACL surgery, I would automatically perform stem cells to help the surgery even more. My normal surgical discussions, especially for ACL injuries, is to discuss standard of care surgery such as MRIT or TPLO and then I say, ‘we can make it even better with doing this.’ I also bring up that when we bank these doses, we can use them later in life for other problems such as autoimmune disease or liver or kidney problems, as this is most likely going to be a treatment very commonly done in the future. 

What injuries/ailments do you commonly treat with Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET™)?

I use V-PET for chronic non-healing injuries and for use on ligamentous and tendon injury. For very early ACL strains and tears, less than 25%, I have performed V-PET and have had good outcomes so far. I also will do this for a last resort when a patient has a less than 50% tear of an ACL and there are no other options as far as surgery, which is too expensive for the owner. Older patients, especially those with cancers, I will do V-PET on for arthritis vs doing stem cells. In very, very old patients, V-PET is easy to do and apply and it will keep them mobile longer and I have seen very good results with this modality. 

If you are located in the Dundee, MI area and are interested in having your dog or cat treated with VetStem Cell Therapy and/or Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy, we recommend a visit with Dr. Nick Vitale.

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May 3, 2019

An Update on Pearl, The Tripod Pit Bull

Some of you may remember Pearl, the tripod blue pit bull who had a chronic wound on her leg stump and a partially torn cruciate ligament in her right knee.  Pearl was treated with Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET™) by Dr. Holly Mullen of VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center.  Her response to treatment was fantastic: her wound healed and the limping and pain in her injured knee stopped.  You can read Pearl’s story here.

Recently, Dr. Mullen reached out to give us an update on Pearl.  According to Dr. Mullen, her leg stump has not had a single issue since the first treatment with platelet therapy over three years ago.  And she has been doing great on the knee that was treated at the same time.  Fantastic news!

Unfortunately, earlier this year Pearl began limping on the opposite knee and was diagnosed with a probable partial cruciate tear.  Dr. Mullen believed this injury to be a little bit worse than the knee that was previously treated.  Once again, she treated Pearl’s injured knee utilizing the V-PET™ kit.  A platelet concentrate was created using Pearl’s own blood and injected directly into her affected knee.  Dr. Mullen reported that her knee became sound again and is so far doing great!

If you are wondering whether Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy may help your pet, speak to your veterinarian today.  Or you can contact us to locate a veterinarian in your area who provides platelet and/or stem cell therapy.

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