Jan 22, 2021

VetStem Patent Protection and Licensing

Posted by Bob under VetStem

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

a VetStem laboratory technician processing stem cells.

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

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

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

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Jan 15, 2021

Talk a Walk this January for Walk Your Pet Month!

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Dog Arthritis

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

Benefits of Regular Exercise

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

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

How to Exercise Your Pet

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

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

Cats Need Exercise Too!

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

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Jan 8, 2021

COVID-19 Transmission in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cats, COVID-19

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

COVID-19 in Animals

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

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

Cats Infected with COVID-19

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

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

COVID-19 Transmission in Cats

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

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

More Studies Are Needed

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

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Dec 18, 2020

The History of VetStem: The Foundation of Our Success

Posted by Bob under VetStem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VetStem Celebrates 15 Years of Biocom Membership

Posted by Bob under VetStem

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

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

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

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

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Dec 4, 2020

VetStem Cell Therapy Success Story: Feline Kidney Disease

It is officially December and we all know what that means: it’s National Cat Lovers’ Month! To celebrate, we have a special feline success story to share. You may remember from previous blogs such as this one, that many veterinarians use VetStem Cell Therapy to treat a number of internal medicine conditions in cats including kidney disease. One such patient is Kitters, who received VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease over seven years ago!

Symptoms and Diagnosis

At the age of 15, Kitters was diagnosed with kidney disease. He exhibited many of the common symptoms of renal failure such as lack of appetite, excessive thirst, nausea, lethargy, and weight loss. He was prescribed a typical protocol for kidney disease which included a prescription, low protein diet and subcutaneous fluids. While these treatments can potentially slow the progression of the disease, they will not reverse it.

Kitters receiving an IV dose of his own stem cells

Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

Fortunately for Kitters, his owner found a veterinarian who was willing to try VetStem Cell Therapy to potentially help him feel better. She drove Kitters from Los Angeles to Oakland, California to visit Dr. Gary Richter of Montclair Veterinary Hospital. Kitters underwent a fat tissue collection procedure to begin the VetStem process. His fat was processed at our laboratory where his stem and regenerative cells were extracted and concentrated. An injectable dose of Kitters’ stem cells was shipped back to Dr. Richter for intravenous injection back into Kitters. Two weeks later, he received a follow up intravenous injection.

Feeling Like Himself Again

Approximately 35 days after treatment with stem cells, Kitters was clearly feeling better. He was eating more, his energy was up, and he began putting on the weight he previously lost. His blood kidney values also went down after treatment. His mom made a great and very informative video documenting Kitters’ journey. You can watch it here.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Feline Kidney Disease

Kitters was originally treated back in 2013, and though he was not the first cat to receive VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease, many veterinarians were not aware of this potential treatment option back then. In recent years however, more and more veterinarians are beginning to offer VetStem Cell Therapy for both cats and dogs with kidney disease. As of December 2020, nearly 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease and the outcome data collected from these cases appears promising.

If your cat has kidney disease, speak to your veterinarian to see if VetStem Cell Therapy may help. You can also contact us to find a VetStem provider near you.

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Nov 20, 2020

VetStem Cell Therapy for Horses: Suspensory Ligament Injury

Over 7,000 horses have had their fat tissue processed at VetStem. Like dogs, horses primarily receive VetStem Cell Therapy for orthopedic conditions such as injured tendons, ligaments, and joints. One common condition in sport horses is an injured suspensory ligament.

What is the suspensory ligament and how is it injured?

The suspensory ligament supports a horse’s fetlock joint in all four limbs. While the ligament is strong, it is only slightly elastic. Stress on the ligament can lead to injury and may occur from various activities such as running fast or landing a jump. The injury can be chronic in nature, where repetitive stress leads to tearing of fibers. In an acute injury, numerous fibers can rupture all at once.

What are the symptoms of an injured suspensory ligament?

Symptoms of an injured suspensory ligament vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Some horses will show only subtle or inconsistent lameness while others may show no obvious lameness. However,  the horse’s performance will often suffer. For those horses with more obvious lameness, symptoms may worsen with exercise and improve with rest. With injury to the branches, the affected area may be thickened, warm, and tender. In the case of a rupture, the fetlock will sink toward the ground.

Atlas “never took a lame step” after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy for a partially torn suspensory ligament.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Suspensory Ligament Injuries

VetStem Cell Therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment option for some suspensory ligament injuries. Treatment with stem cells may reduce inflammation and scar tissue and may also lead to tissue regeneration. In a retrospective review of 62 cases of suspensory ligament injury in sport horses treated with VetStem Cell Therapy, nearly 76% of treated horses returned to full work at their prior level of performance. Additionally, another 16% returned to full work at a lower level of performance. Furthermore, 92% of the horses with acute injuries and over 71% of the horses with chronic injuries returned to their prior level of performance after treatment.

It is important to remember that outcomes vary and not all horses will respond to treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. In the aforementioned retrospective review, 5 of the 62 treated horses were non-responsive.

If your horse has an injured suspensory ligament and you are curious about whether he/she may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian. You can also contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Nov 13, 2020

VetStem Cell Therapy for Senior Pets with Osteoarthritis

Posted by Bob under osteoarthritis, VetStem Cell Therapy

November is National Senior Pet Month, and we want to show those frosted-faces some extra special attention in this week’s blog! Like people, increased age is a risk factor associated with osteoarthritis. One study conducted in the UK indicated that dogs over eight years old were most frequently diagnosed with osteoarthritis. The same study found that dogs over twelve years had the greatest odds of being diagnosed with osteoarthritis compared to other age groups. These findings support the notion that osteoarthritis is predominantly a disease of aging.

Senior Golden Retriever, Maverick, Received VetStem Cell Therapy for Hip Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the Number 2 Reason for Euthanasia

Given that approximately 1 in 5 dogs in the United States are affected by osteoarthritis, it comes as no surprise that the disease has previously been labeled as the second most common reason for euthanasia. Though there are several treatment options available to help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, many of them come along with unpleasant side effects and/or begin to lose efficacy after prolonged use.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Osteoarthritis

While it is not a cure for osteoarthritis, as there is no cure for this progressive disease, many arthritic pets have benefited from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Based on information obtained from veterinarians and dog owners, 81% of arthritic older dogs who were treated with VetStem Cell Therapy experienced an improved quality of life. In addition, 63% were not re-treated in the first year, meaning the benefits of stem cell therapy lasted longer than a year. Below are some additional numbers regarding older dogs who received VetStem Cell Therapy for osteoarthritis.

*Clinical data obtained from veterinarian laboratory submission forms and voluntary owner surveys.

Is VetStem Cell Therapy Right for your Senior Pet?

Though stem cell therapy may lead to a better quality of life in some pets, it may not be the best option for your pet if they do not tolerate anesthesia well or if they have active cancer, which is more prevalent in older pets and is contraindicated with VetStem Cell Therapy. Thus, if you think your pet may benefit from treatment with stem cells, the first place to start is talking with your veterinarian. He/She can perform a comprehensive exam to determine if your pet may be a good candidate for stem cell therapy.


Need to find a vet who provides VetStem Cell Therapy? Click here.

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Nov 6, 2020

Stem Cell Therapy for Wound Healing

Posted by Bob under Stem Cell Therapy, Wound Healing

One topic we have not covered is wound healing. Chronic wounds can be a major problem for pets and present many challenges for veterinarians. Some wounds require significant ongoing medical care which can be both stressful and expensive for pet owners.

Stem Cell Therapy for Wound Healing

Stem cells have many potential uses. Veterinarians primarily use VetStem Cell Therapy to treat orthopedic conditions as well as some internal medicine conditions. Stem cells have shown the ability to reduce inflammation and pain and to lead to tissue regeneration. Adipose-derived stem cells can differentiate into multiple tissue types, including skin. Stem cells also release growth factors and cytokines, which the body uses to promote healing.

There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the potential efficacy of stem cell therapy for wound healing. That being said, there is still significant research to be done before any claims of definitive treatment can be made. While the research continues, some veterinarians (and human physicians) are using stem cell therapy experimentally to help with wound healing.

Jaguar Receives Stem Cell Therapy for Severe Burns

In September, a story came out about a jaguar who was severely burned in a wildfire in Brazil. Amanaci, whose name means “goddess of the waters”, was found in an abandoned hen house amidst the fires in the Pantanal wetlands. She had third-degree burns on all four paws and on her belly. Her mammary glands were swollen with milk, indicating she recently had cubs. Veterinarians speculated that Amanaci spent considerable time trying to protect and save her cubs, which is why she was burned so badly. Unfortunately, no cubs were found.

Amanaci was transported to the NEX Institute where veterinarian, Daniela Gianni and several others took over her care. Dr. Gianni, who has previous experience using stem cell therapy in large cats, treated Amanaci’s wounds with multiple rounds of stem cell treatments along with other therapies due to the severity of her condition. And though her treatment is progressing well, it is believed she is not capable of surviving in the wild at this point. Amanaci will likely continue living at the institute along with 23 other jaguars. To read more about Amanaci’s story, click here. Or click here to watch a brief video.

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Oct 30, 2020

Stem Cells for Cats on National Cat Day

Posted by Bob under Cat Stem Cells

Yesterday, October 29th, was National Cat Day! We could not let this holiday pass by without a shout out in our blog! We at VetStem love cats and employ quite a few self-professed “crazy cat ladies.”

National Cat Day was created to bring awareness to the many cats that need rescuing each year and to “encourage cat lovers to celebrate the cat(s) in their life for the unconditional love and companionship they bestow upon us.” According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), in 2017-2018 over 25% of the households in the United States owned cats. With over 30 million households owning an average of 1.8 cats, that means there were nearly 60 million family cats in the United States at the time of the AVMA’s pet ownership survey. That is a lot of cats!

Regenerative Medicine for Cats

To honor our feline friends, we have compiled a review of stem cell uses for cats. Like dogs and horses, cats may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy for arthritic joints or injured tendons and ligaments. In addition, many veterinarians have used VetStem Cell Therapy in cats for kidney disease, gingivostomatitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Osteoarthritis

Though we tend to think of dogs when it comes to arthritis, cats are susceptible to the disease as well. Unlike some dogs, cats are very good at hiding their pain. If you are unsure if your cat is in pain, speak to your veterinarian. We’ve also written a few blogs on the topic: click here and here to learn some of the possible signs of pain in cats.

Though most of our osteoarthritis data is from dogs, cats have experienced similar results when treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. Stem cells may reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and may lead to the regeneration of damaged joint tissues. This can result in increased mobility and a better quality of life for your kitty.

Kidney Disease

Nearly 200 cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD is a common cause of sickness and death in cats. In fact, some reviews suggest that CKD may be the number one cause of sickness and death in older cats. Unfortunately, treatment options are limited and can be costly.  

VetStem veterinarians have seen some promising results in the treatment of feline CKD. Based upon data from a small number of feline patients treated with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy, blood kidney values were slightly to moderately improved after treatment. While more evaluation is necessary, these preliminary results suggest that stem cell therapy may be a low-risk treatment option for cats with CKD.

Gingivostomatitis

Another debilitating feline disease is gingivostomatitis, which affects the gums, teeth and sometimes upper throat of cats. Gingivostomatitis causes oral pain which leads to other symptoms such as decreased appetite, reduced grooming, and weight loss. The most common treatment is extracting all the cat’s chewing teeth, however only about 70% of cats will respond to this treatment. The remaining 30% of cats that do not respond will require lifelong treatment with medications.

Some veterinarians have seen favorable results using VetStem Cell Therapy in cats affected by gingivostomatitis. In addition, two small studies conducted at the University of California Davis showed that when fat-derived stem cell therapy was utilized in addition to teeth extractions there was improvement or remission in the majority of cats treated. VetStem believes that fat-derived stem cell therapy without full extractions may be beneficial.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a gastrointestinal disease that can affect both cats and dogs. It is characterized by inflammation of the intestines and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, reduced appetite, and weight loss. It is important to note however, that these symptoms can be indicative of several conditions including feline lymphoma. Since VetStem Cell Therapy is contraindicated in pets with cancer, it is essential to rule this out before pursuing treatment with stem cells.

Several cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD. In a case study where a 4-year-old Himalayan cat developed IBD, treatment with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy quickly resolved the cat’s diarrhea and vomiting and led to an increased appetite with no recurrence. To add to that, in a recently published paper, 5 out of 7 cats that were treated with stem cells were significantly improved or had complete resolution of symptoms, whereas the 4 control cats had no improvement. One of our veterinary clients also wrote a guest blog about one of his feline patients who received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD.

If you believe your cat may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area. Maybe stem cell therapy is just the gift your cat needs for National Cat Day!

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