Sep 18, 2020

Stem Cell Therapy May Reduce Pain in Pets

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets, Stem Cell Therapy

As Animal Pain Awareness Month continues, we wanted to share some information about how stem cells may relieve pain in pets. We frequently share stories about dogs with osteoarthritis who regain mobility and a better quality of life after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy. While stem cells utilize multiple mechanisms of action, one primary benefit of stem cells is their ability to reduce inflammation and pain.

Pain in Pets

As we mentioned in last week’s blog, pets can suffer from acute and chronic pain. Pain in pets can result from a variety of causes and there are three primary classifications of pain:

  • Nociceptive – caused by noxious stimulation (injury/physical damage, exposure to chemicals or exposure to extreme temperatures)
  • Inflammatory – caused by acute or chronic inflammation
  • Neuropathic – from damage to an element of the nervous system

Stem Cells are Anti-Inflammatory

One major mechanism of action is the ability of stem cells to down regulate inflammation. By reducing inflammation, stem cells promote healing and increase comfort. When used to treat osteoarthritis, stem cells may promote cartilage regrowth and therefore healthier and less painful joints.

Stem Cells Act Directly on Pain

While a reduction in inflammation can lead to increased comfort, current literature supports that stem cells have the ability to address both acute and chronic pain directly. Recently, there have been studies to evaluate stem cells’ direct effects on modulating pain. Stem cells have been shown to secrete pain blocking cytokines (small proteins), which can have opioid-like effects. Stem cells have also shown the ability to reduce neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nervous tissue).

If you think your pet may benefit from stem cell therapy, contact us for a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Sep 11, 2020

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) has declared September as Animal Pain Awareness Month. Pets tend to be good at hiding their pain, so it is important for veterinarians to educate their clients to spot the potential signs of pain in their pets. This month is dedicated to raising awareness to help pet owners recognize and manage their pet’s pain.

According to the North American Veterinary Community, more than 45 million household pets suffer from acute or chronic pain. Acute pain is characterized by pain that has come on suddenly or has only been present for a short period of time. Examples of acute pain include pain after surgery or from a new injury, such as a fall. Alternatively, chronic pain can be more subtle and may be considered just “slowing down” or “getting old.” An example of chronic pain is osteoarthritis pain.

But how do you know if your pet is in pain? As we mentioned, pets can be good at hiding pain. But there are some potential signs of pain in pets that you can keep an eye out for. The IVAPM has provided a list of the most common signs of pain in pets:

  • Decreased activity – Take notice if your animal is not playing as much as usual
  • Not going up or down stairs – This could be an early sign of osteoarthritis
  • Reluctance to jump onto surfaces – This especially applies to cats
  • Difficulty standing after laying down – This is a sign of osteoarthritis
  • Decreased appetite – This can signal mouth pain
  • Over grooming or licking a particular area – This can be a sign of referred pain

While September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for these potential signs of pain at all times. If you notice that your pet is exhibiting any of these signs, call your veterinarian.

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Sep 4, 2020

VetStem Raises the Bar for Veterinary Stem Cell Therapy

Posted by Bob under Stem Cell Therapy, VetStem Biopharma

As the first company to provide adipose derived stem cell services to veterinarians in the United States and Canada, VetStem has processed nearly 14,000 patient samples resulting in over 30,000 stem cell treatments for animals. VetStem Cell Therapy is primarily used for the treatment of orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis as well as torn tendons and ligaments in dogs, cats, and horses. In addition to domestic animals, VetStem has worked with multiple exotic animal organizations to provide stem cell therapy for several exotic species. (Read last week’s blog about Brody the bear!)

Veterinarians have also used VetStem Cell Therapy to treat several “non-standard” indications. Some of these include feline chronic kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, feline gingivostomatitis, and canine keratoconjunctivitis sicca (“dry eye). While we are still researching the full capabilities of stem cells, veterinarians have seen promising results when treating these and other conditions with VetStem Cell Therapy.

VetStem has been providing stem cell processing services to veterinarians for their patients for over 17 years. We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality stem cell processing services for all patient samples. Our laboratory technicians undergo extensive training and dedicate the majority of their workday to stem cell processing. All patient samples are processed in bio-safety cabinets in hepa-filtered cleanrooms. We take sterility and patient safety very seriously.

In addition, VetStem determines the cell yield and viability of each sample to ensure an accurate dose prior to shipment. Using cell counting technology allows us to know the number of cells packaged in each stem cell injection. We continually draw upon existing and new research as well as 17+ years of experience to determine appropriate cell numbers.

If you think your pet may benefit from stem cell therapy, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of using VetStem Cell Therapy. We have provided a letter you can take to your vet to help them get better acquainted with the science behind stem cell therapy and VetStem’s services. Or you can contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.  

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Aug 28, 2020

Brody the Bear Receives VetStem Cell Therapy

Posted by Bob under VetStem Cell Therapy

Brody is a Florida black bear that had a pretty rough start in life. He was found abandoned at approximately 3 weeks of age in Ocala National Forest. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were unsuccessful in finding his mother and determined he had severe respiratory issues and a weak suckling response. Because he was abandoned at such a young age, he was not a candidate for release. Thus, he was transferred to the Brevard Zoo for long-term care. Fortunately for Brody, Zoo team members nursed him back to health and continue to give him hours of exercise and socialization.

Not Out of the Woods Yet

In May, when Brody was approximately 4 months old, caregivers noticed that Brody’s abdomen was sensitive and that he was repeatedly licking the area. He was anesthetized for an examination and it was determined that Brody has a condition similar to hip dysplasia in dogs. His hip joints are malformed and, if left untreated, will lead to severe pain and osteoarthritis. In an effort to avoid this fate, it was determined that Brody would undergo a corrective surgery known as juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS).

Dr. Christiansen injecting Brody’s own stem cells into his hip

A Skilled Surgeon Steps Up to the Plate

As luck would have it, Dr. Jeff Christiansen, board-certified surgeon and avid stem cell user, was contacted to perform Brody’s surgery. Dr. Christiansen has performed JPS on puppies with great success and felt that Brody would be a good candidate for the procedure. While he had Brody on the operating table, he collected some fat for stem cell processing.

Brody’s fat was received at the VetStem laboratory where his stem cells were extracted and put into culture to grow stem cell doses. Once complete, three stem cell doses were shipped back to Dr. Christiansen. Brody received one injection in each hip as well as one intravenous injection.

A Happy Ending

According to the Brevard Zoo, Brody is recovering well. It will be quite some time before they can evaluate the long-term effectiveness of the surgery but the good news is, Brody has 15 stem cell doses banked for potential future use. When VetStem Cell Therapy is used in conjunction with surgery, the stem cells act to reduce pain and inflammation and to promote healing.

Brody is not the first bear that VetStem has helped. In 2018, Francis, a sun bear at the San Diego Zoo, received VetStem Cell Therapy for arthritis, using his own stem cells. You can read Francis’ stem cell story here.

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Aug 21, 2020

August Update: COVID-19 in Animals in the United States

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

Since our last update, several more cats and dogs have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the United States. Below is a list from the USDA website of animals in the United States who are confirmed positive for the virus as of August 21, 2020.

Animals in the U.S. who have Tested Positive for SARS-CoV-2

Type of AnimalDate ConfirmedStateMethod of Initial Diagnosis*
Tiger~,a April 4, 2020New YorkPCR
Lion~,a April 15, 2020New York PCR
Cat~April 22, 2020New York PCR
Cat~April 22, 2020New York PCR
Dog~,bJune 1, 2020New YorkPCR, Ab
Cat~June 1, 2020MinnesotaPCR
Cat~June 4, 2020IllinoisPCR
Dog~June 24, 2020New YorkAb
Dog~June 24, 2020New YorkAb
Dog~ July 1, 2020GeorgiaPCR
Dog~ July 8, 2020TexasPCR
Cat~ July 8, 2020CaliforniaPCR
Dog~ July 9, 2020S. CarolinaPCR
Dog~ July 15, 2020 ArizonaPCR
Cat~ July 21, 20201 TexasPCR
Cat~ July 22, 20201TexasPCR
2 Cats, 1 Dog~ July 22, 20201  UtahAb
Cat~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Cat~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  Utah Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  WisconsinAb
Dog~ July 22, 20201  Wisconsin Ab
Dog~ July 22, 20201  N. CarolinaAb
Dog~ August 3, 2020  LouisianaPCR
Dog~ August 11, 2020  N. CarolinaPCR
2 CatsAugust 12, 20201New YorkAb
Mink~August 17, 2020UtahPCR
Mink~August 17, 2020UtahPCR

PCR:real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; Ab: virus neutralizing antibody~Animal had exposure to a probable or confirmed human with COVID-19.Another three tigers and two lions at the same facility were all confirmed with SARS-CoV-2.A second dog in the household showed no signs of illness; virus neutralizing antibodies were also identified in that dog
1 Samples collected as part of planned and targeted active surveillance of a specific animal, with known or suspected exposures to a person with COVID-19 or other exposure to SARS-CoV-2, to better understand risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

Surveillance Testing to Study the Virus in Animals

Something to note is that most of the animals were exposed to the virus from a probable or confirmed positive COVID-19 human. You will also notice that several of the more recent animals were tested as part of a planned surveillance.

According to the CDC website, “CDC, USDA, and state public health and animal health officials are working in some states to conduct active surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in pets, including cats, dogs, and other small mammals, that had contact with a person with COVID-19. These animals are being tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection and also tested to see whether the pet develops antibodies to this virus.” This surveillance is being done to gain a better understanding of how common SARS-CoV-2 infection may be in animals. In addition, it may provide an understanding of the possible role that pets may play in the spread of the virus.

There is still no evidence to suggest that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. That being said, it is imperative that we understand as much as possible about this novel coronavirus. While the research is currently limited, there are studies underway to help us gain a better understanding of how the virus may affect various animals.  Though surveillance testing is being done, the CDC does not recommend routine testing of animals.

What to do if your Pet is Sick

If you are concerned your pet is sick, contact your veterinarian. The CDC is advising veterinarians to rule out other, more common illnesses before considering SARS-CoV-2 testing, especially in animals who have no known exposure to COVID-19. If your pet does in fact test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the CDC has provided some guidance on their website. While some pets displayed no symptoms at all, those who did get sick had mild symptoms and were able to be cared for at home. According to the CDC, none of the pets have died. It is important to remember the risk of pets spreading the virus to humans is considered to be low. There is no reason to abandon or surrender pets who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

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Aug 14, 2020

Golden Retriever Receives VetStem Cell Therapy for Hip Arthritis

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, VetStem Cell Therapy

When Daisey was approximately six years old, she began showing symptoms of osteoarthritis in her hips. A typical fun-loving Golden, Daisey enjoys fetch, running at the dog park, and playing with her canine sibling. When she began to limp after her favorite activities, her owners knew there was a problem.  She started having trouble walking up stairs and would occasionally yelp in pain.

Daisey

A trip to the veterinarian revealed Daisey has osteoarthritis in her hips as a result of bilateral hip dysplasia. Her owners decided against surgery and instead looked into stem cell therapy. Her veterinarian, Dr. Rob Landry of Colorado Center for Animal Pain Management, has extensive experience with VetStem Cell Therapy and determined Daisey was a good candidate for the procedure.

Dr. Landry collected fat tissue from Daisey’s abdomen, which was shipped to the VetStem laboratory in California. VetStem lab technicians processed the tissue to extract and concentrate Daisey’s stem and regenerative cells. Three injectable stem cell doses were shipped back to Dr. Landry. Approximately 48 hours after the fat tissue collection, Daisey received injections of her own stem cells into each hip and intravenously.

After the procedure, Daisey’s owners noticed improvement. First, they noticed that Daisey was able to rise from lying down with less difficulty. Additionally, climbing stairs became less of a challenge for Daisey. Eventually, she began to play more and is now able to take long walks with her owners. Her owner stated, “There is a contented look on her face and a twinkle in her eyes. So far life is good.”

Unfortunately, Daisey’s story is not uncommon. Approximately 1 in 5 adult dogs are affected by arthritis. OA can be caused by a number of factors including abnormal joint conformation or development, injury, and obesity. In addition, some dog breeds, like Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to the disease. Fortunately, stem cells have shown the ability to down-regulate inflammation and pain, which can lead to an increase in an arthritic dog’s quality of life. If you think your dog may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Aug 7, 2020

Injured Veteran’s Dog Receives Stem Cells and Platelet Therapy

Posted by Bob under Dog Stem Cells, Platelet Therapy

This week is International Assistance Dog Week (IADW). Information from the IADW website states, “International Assistance Dog Week was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations.” To show our support of this well-deserved recognition, we wanted to highlight Max, a service dog to a disabled army veteran. According to an article from Florida Today, Max has been a trained companion for U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Edward Johnson since 2014. Sgt. Johnson, a purple heart recipient, was shot in the head during combat in Iraq in 2006 and was left with a traumatic brain injury. Max helps Sgt. Johnson cope with PTSD and other debilitating ailments related to his injuries.

Max at the vet

In 2017, Max was diagnosed with a torn cruciate ligament. He was obviously in pain and in need of surgery and other medical procedures. Fortunately, his story got out and through donations and good will, Max was able to have surgery. His surgeon, Dr. Jeff Christiansen of Superior Veterinary Surgical Solutions, donated his services and organized donations from several others as well. As an experienced VetStem provider, Dr. Christiansen recommended stem cell and platelet therapy in conjunction with the surgery to aid Max’s healing. VetStem provided a free Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy kit as well as discounted stem cell processing services.

According to Dr. Christiansen, Max recovered completely. Unfortunately, Max suffered a second cruciate rupture in his other leg just over two years after the initial surgery. Once again, Dr. Christiansen and several companies, including VetStem, stepped up to provide this dog with top-notch care. Max received surgery on his other knee in addition to stem cells and platelet therapy. In this video from Dr. Christiansen, Max can be seen working on his at home exercises with his dad.

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Jul 31, 2020

FDA Approved Stem Cell Clinical Trial for COVID-19

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Stem Cell Therapy

It is with immense pride that we announce our human company, Personalized Stem Cells, recently received FDA approval to treat COVID-19 patients in an upcoming clinical trial. Read PSC’s blog below:

Personalized Stem Cells (PSC) recently received FDA approval to treat COVID-19 patients with stem cells in an upcoming clinical trial. In April, we announced that we filed an expedited IND at the request of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. This approval is incredibly significant because patients will be treated with disease-screened, quality tested donor cells as opposed to their own stem cells. This is known as allogeneic stem cell therapy and is different from PSC’s current FDA approved clinical trial in which patients receive their own stem cells (autologous) to treat knee osteoarthritis.

Stem Cell Therapy for COVID-19

PSC has become a leader in the field, recently publishing a landmark peer-reviewed scientific article on the rationale behind using stem cells to treat COVID-19. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have demonstrated the capacity to inhibit lung damage, reduce inflammation, dampen immune responses and aid with alveolar fluid clearance. Additionally, MSCs produce molecules that are antimicrobial and reduce pain. Recently, the application of MSCs in the context of ongoing COVID-19 disease and other viral respiratory illnesses has demonstrated reduced patient mortality and, in some cases, improved long-term pulmonary function.

Based on information out of Israel, China, Spain and the United States, stem cells have shown promising effectiveness in the treatment of the major medical lung issues caused by COVID-19. Israel recently announced 100% recovery in seven COVID-19 patients who were treated with stem cell therapy. Spanish medical investigators reported on an adipose stem cell study in which 13 COVID-19 patients were treated using a protocol very similar to the one just approved for PSC. According to the results, the mortality rate in the treated patients was significantly decreased.

FDA Approved Clinical Trial: CoronaStem 1

The initial clinical trial, named CoronaStem 1, will include 20 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in California. Once complete, PSC hopes to move into a larger Phase 2 clinical study and potentially into FDA Expanded Use programs or Emergency Use Authorization, which could allow for many more patients to be treated.

In order to rapidly ramp up the production of stem cells for use in the clinical trial, PSC collaborated with Calidi Biotherapeutics, a biotechnology company based in San Diego, California. Calidi provided disease-screened, quality stem cell lines to PSC, enabling us to accelerate the stem cell drug manufacturing process. In addition, sister company and CRO, VetStem Biopharma, provided manufacturing and regulatory support to help make FDA approval a reality.

PSC is not currently soliciting patients for inclusion in CoronaStem 1 due to the limited number of hospitals participating in the study. For more information regarding future clinical trials, please contact us here.

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Jul 24, 2020

July Update: COVID-19 in Animals in the United States

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

It has been a little over a month since our last update regarding COVID-19 and animals in the United States. Altogether, the USDA has reported 18 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in animals in the United States. Of these 18 cases, 7 of them were tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo. The remainder were domestic cats and dogs.  

Ben wearing his dad’s mask for a quick photo op.

On the whole, the narrative remains the same as our previous updates. Based upon the limited number of confirmed positive cases, there are several probable conclusions we can draw:

1. Dogs and cats (as well as other species) can contract COVID-19

2. Most infected pets presumably contracted the virus from an infected pet owner/caregiver

3. Symptoms in dogs and cats tend to be mild, if not completely absent

4. Dogs and cats do not appear to be a source of COVID-19 and the risk of animals spreading the virus to humans appears to be low

With this information, the best we can do is be prepared. According to the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are some steps we can take to ensure the well being of ourselves and our families, both 2- and 4-legged.

  • Do not allow pets to interact with people or other animals outside of the home. Keep dogs on a leash and cats indoors and practice social distancing. Avoid public places where large groups of people and animals gather such as dog parks.
  • If you or a household member become sick with COVID-19, whether suspected or confirmed, avoid interaction with your pets as much as possible. If you must interact, wash your hands before and after interaction, wear a face covering (mask), and do not share items such as food, dishes, bedding, or towels.
  • It is wise to prepare an emergency kit for your pets should you be required to quarantine. The AVMA recommends your kit include at least 2 weeks’ worth of food and any needed medications. Additional items to include may be bedding, toys, and any other items to help keep your pet(s) healthy and happy.

For up-to-date information and other resources regarding animals and COVID-19, you can visit the AVMA website and CDC website.

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Jul 17, 2020

Horse Receives VetStem Cell Therapy for Ligament Injuries

Posted by Bob under Horse Injuries, VetStem Cell Therapy

Heartbeat is a 22-year-old Oldenberg gelding. When he was 16, he started to show signs of lameness in his left front leg. Extensive examinations and diagnostics revealed his lameness was due to injuries to his lateral collateral and impar ligaments in his left front hoof.

Heartbeat in the Jumper Ring

His veterinarian, Dr. Patricia Doyle of Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center, recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy and began the process by collecting fat from Heartbeat’s tailhead. The fat was processed at the VetStem laboratory and 3 syringes of Heartbeat’s own stem cells were shipped back to Dr. Doyle for injection into his injured leg.

In addition to VetStem Cell Therapy, Dr. Doyle recommended a slow, regimented rehabilitation program for approximately 8-12 months following Heartbeat’s stem cell treatment. Veterinarian’s may or may not recommend rehabilitation in conjunction with VetStem Cell Therapy depending on several factors such as the condition being treated and the severity of the condition. Some other horses that benefited from rehab after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy are Jesse, Atlas, and Woody.

Following stem cell therapy and one full year of rehab, Heartbeat returned to the jumper ring and has competed successfully at the lower levels for the past 6 years. Now, at age 22, his owner reports, “He remains sound working six days a week on average and still winning in the show ring.” If your horse has suffered an injury or is suddenly lame, speak to your veterinarian about whether or not VetStem Cell Therapy may help. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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