May 7, 2010

How Do Stem Cells Really Work in Arthritis Treatment for Dogs?

Stem cells have been and will continue to be a hot news topic.  They are praised, cursed, debated and researched.  So what do we know about how they actually work? 

First, these little cells we call “stem cells” can be found anywhere in the body.  You are alive right now because your own stem cells replace the hundreds of millions of cells you lose every day as a part of normal living.  They are your “spare parts” and are essential.  If your dog has arthritis, stem cells help replace the lost cartilage caused by the disease. 

Stem cells are the master healing cells in the body.  Stem cells can act to reduce the inflammation that occurs with most injuries and diseases, and seen often with dog arthritis…They keep the body’s normal reaction from getting out of hand.  These amazing cells also produce a whole drugstore full of naturally occurring chemicals that are related to stimulation of healing in reaction to an injury. 

For example, stem cells make lubricin, the key molecule involved in lubricating your joint.  Often in arthritis, the joint is very “dry” and has too much friction.  So how do they get to the site of injury?  These adult stem cells have the ability to sense an injury by “sniffing” the blood going right by their resting place. When they sense an injury, they leave their resting place in a tissue like fat, and then migrate through the blood stream directly to the injured area.  Once they arrive, they survey the damage much like a medic or EMT would do upon reaching the scene of an accident.  They “talk” to all the  other cells in the area of the injury and decide how to start healing.  These cells produce signaling chemicals and also talk directly to other cells they are touching and the healing begins.  Yes, this is truly “Patient Heal Thyself”. 

Tom Ichim is one of the most prolific researchers in adult stem cells and has published a number of cutting edge papers on the mechanisms of action and clinical use. In this video on Adult Stem Cells, Tom discusses the two major types of adult stem cells and their sources.  It is a good reference video.


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