Jul 10, 2020

Vet has Own Dog Treated with VetStem Cell Therapy for Arthritis

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, VetStem Cell Therapy

Emma is a 12-year-old Australian cattle dog. She has arthritis in her elbows and carpus (wrist) and also has spondylosis, a spinal condition in which bony spurs form along the vertebrae. Fortunately for Emma, her mom is a veterinarian and elected to have Emma treated with VetStem Cell Therapy.

In 2018, Emma had her fat collected to begin the process for stem cell therapy. Her initial treatment consisted of three joint injections for her elbows and right carpus, one intravenous injection, and one injection that was given along the muscles of her spine. She responded well to treatment.

After approximately one year, Emma began to slow down again. Her veterinarian requested that Emma’s stem cells be put into culture to grow more stem cell doses for treatment. Once the culture process was complete, Emma received a second round of stem cell injections just over one year after her first treatment.

Again, Emma responded well to the stem cell treatment but, according to her mom, began to show signs of discomfort approximately one year after her second stem cell treatment. Her mom stated, “What we notice is weakness to her back legs and mild limping on her front legs. She will also lick at her carpi and elbows when her pain is acting up. When her rear legs are weak, we notice she has trouble jumping onto the couch. She also needs to stop and rest frequently when we take her on walks.” Emma received a third stem cell treatment in June of this year. Her mom stated, “I know she would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the stem cell treatment.”

Emma’s story is not uncommon. Many VetStem patients have undergone repeat injections when their symptoms start to flare up again. One such patient is Bodie, the champion Bird Dog with hip dysplasia. Fortunately, VetStem offers stem cell storage for patients who receive VetStem Cell Therapy. If available, the stored stem cells can be used for future treatments as needed. For more information about cell storage, read our recent blog on the subject.

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Jun 26, 2020

New Checklist to Help Detect Osteoarthritis Pain in Cats

Posted by Bob under Cat Arthritis, Cat Stem Cells

When we think of arthritis in our pets, most of us immediately think of dogs. We have all heard about or experienced firsthand dogs with arthritic joints. But what about cats? Well, the truth is, osteoarthritis (OA) in cats is a lot more common than you may think. It is estimated that 45% of all cats and 90% of cats over age 10 are affected by arthritis in some way. Unfortunately, feline arthritis tends to go undiagnosed.

Symptoms of OA in Cats

With such a high percentage of cats potentially affected by arthritis, why is the problem underdiagnosed? The most obvious answer is that most pet owners do not know that their cat has OA because the signs are different than in dogs. The typical symptoms we see in dogs such as limping, stiffness, and pain, are generally not present or are much less noticeable in cats with the same ailment. Cats do not present pain in the same way dogs might. For instance, they do not generally vocalize pain and instead of limping, cats might not jump as well or as high. Knowing the signs is key to helping your veterinarian determine if your cat is affected by OA.

New Checklist to Check for Early Signs of OA

Because cats tend to hide their ailments well, researchers set out to develop a new checklist to help both cat owners and veterinarians determine if a cat is affected by pain associated with OA, also knows as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). The recent publication analyzed and compiled data from previously conducted studies to develop a short checklist that veterinarians can use to help detect pain associated with DJD. The checklist may also be beneficial for owners who are concerned their cat may have OA.

The compiled data allowed researchers to pare down longer diagnostic questionnaires into six short questions:

  1. Does your cat jump up normally?
  2. Does your cat jump down normally?
  3. Does your cat climb up stairs or steps normally?
  4. Does your cat climb down stairs or steps normally?
  5. Does your cat run normally?
  6. Does your cat chase moving objects (toys, prey, etc.)

What to Do If You Think Your Cat May Have OA

If you answered no to any of the above questions and your cat hasn’t suffered any obvious injury that you know of, this might indicate that your cat may have OA. The first thing to do is make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine the diagnosis. If it is confirmed that your cat has OA, there are several treatment options that may bring your cat relief. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons recommends a multi-modal approach to pain management for arthritic cats. This may include weight management, physical rehabilitation and certain medications. If your cat is prescribed medication for pain, it is important to monitor them closely with your veterinarian to check for adverse side effects.

Stem cell therapy is another natural treatment option for cats with OA. Like dogs, fat is collected from the patient and shipped to the VetStem laboratory. After processing, VetStem will ship your cat’s own stem cells back to the veterinarian in injectable doses. Though the majority of our clinical data is from dogs, cats have responded to VetStem Cell Therapy in a similar way to dogs. Stem cells have shown the ability to reduce pain and inflammation and thereby improve a patient’s quality of life.

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

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Jun 18, 2020

June 18th is Veterinary Appreciation Day™

Posted by Bob under Veterinary Medicine

June 18th is a special day for those of us in the veterinary field. In 2015, Trupanion created Veterinary Appreciation Day™ to recognize and honor veterinary professionals. From the veterinary receptionists and front desk teams to the animal care team, technicians and doctors, veterinary professionals are a dedicated and hardworking bunch of individuals.

While human doctors and nurses often specialize in one field of medicine, veterinary doctors and technicians practice several areas of medicine. Veterinarians, with support from their team, examine and diagnose patients with many different conditions, perform radiography, provide hematologic (blood) analysis, prescribe medication, and perform an array of surgeries and dental prophylaxis. Also, veterinarians are trained to treat more than just one species and none of their patients can tell them what is wrong! Your veterinary hospital is likely a one-stop-shop for all of your pet’s basic needs.

However, some veterinarians pursue advanced training to specialize in fields such as surgery, neurology, ophthalmology, or internal medicine. Veterinary specialists tend to have a wider breadth of knowledge and experience in their specific field of expertise and can often provide diagnoses and services that general practitioners may not be able to. For instance, your regular veterinarian may not have an MRI machine, or they may not be experienced in some of the more advanced orthopedic surgeries.

One thing remains consistent however: veterinarians and their teams are compassionate and dedicated to the health and wellbeing of their patients. For this reason, compassion fatigue is a real and serious concern that may affect veterinary professionals. Working in a veterinary hospital is not all puppy kisses and kitten cuddles. Often, veterinary staff are faced with tough situations which can be emotionally exhausting. Long hours and strenuous physical work can add to the stress that veterinary professionals face.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, veterinary professionals are under more stress than ever. As essential workers, many veterinary teams have continued to care for our pets amid various shelter-in-place orders. Many veterinary hospitals modified their services, providing only medically necessary procedures. Veterinary team members have donned masks, protective gowns, and/or gloves, and likely visited with their clients and their furry family members in the parking lot, as opposed to the clinic lobby.

Though veterinary work comes with challenges, most veterinarians and their staff continue to love what they do. Helping animals and their owners is very gratifying and can give one the sense of making a difference, something many of us strive to do. Thus, if you have a moment today, take the time to thank your veterinarian and their team. A simple note of thanks can make a huge difference in one’s day!

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Jun 12, 2020

An Update on COVID-19 in Animals in the United States

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, we are still learning about how the virus may affect our pets. Since our last COVID-19 blog, there have been some additional developments regarding infected animals in the United States. We have shared some details below and will continue to provide relevant updates.

Update on Pug in North Carolina

In our last blog, we mentioned a pug in North Carolina who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Winston’s human family had all tested positive for COVID-19 so when he began to show signs of respiratory illness, his family took him to the vet. At that time, he tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 however confirmatory testing was still being done by the USDA National Veterinary Service Laboratory (NVSL).

It was recently announced however that the confirmatory testing came back negative. These results suggest that Winston was contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, likely from close interaction with his human family, however the contamination did not develop into an active infection. The virus did not enter his bloodstream or respiratory tract and according to the USDA, there was no evidence of an immune response.

German Shepherd in New York

The good news about Winston comes with the news of another dog who has become the first official positive case of COVID-19 in a dog in the United States. A German shepherd living in New York showed symptoms of respiratory illness and was later confirmed COVID-19 positive by the USDA NVSL. One of the dog’s owners is COVID-19 positive while the other owner had symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Another dog in the household had no symptoms of illness however antibodies were detected in samples suggesting exposure to the virus. The German shepherd is expected to make a full recovery.

Cats Test Positive in Minnesota and Illinois

In addition to the German shepherd, two more cats have recently tested positive for COVID-19. One cat is in Minnesota, the other in Illinois, and both live with owners who also tested positive for the virus. Both are also the first animals in their respective states to test positive for coronavirus.

Update on Tigers and Lions at Bronx Zoo

As we reported previously, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in an animal in the United States was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Shortly after, a lion at the zoo also tested positive. Several of the large cats were exhibiting symptoms and it was recently reported that additional testing confirmed 4 more tigers and 2 more lions were also positive for COVID-19. It is presumed that the large cats were exposed by a zookeeper who was actively shedding the virus. All of the infected cats are reportedly recovering well.

We Still Have More to Learn

We are still learning about this virus and how it may affect animals. At this time, it appears that animals may contract the virus from infected humans however animals do not appear to play a significant role in spreading the virus. The CDC and AVMA continue to recommend avoiding contact with your pets if you have COVID-19.

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Jun 5, 2020

Success Story: VetStem Cell Therapy for Feline Kidney Disease

We’ve shared many blog posts about treating cats with stem cells. Although we primarily process fat from dogs and horses for VetStem Cell Therapy, we’ve provided cell processing services for over 350 cats. Like dogs, cats may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Veterinarians have also treated cats for a variety of internal medicine diseases utilizing VetStem Cell Therapy. These diseases include Gingivostomatitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Chronic Kidney Disease. For more information about stem cell therapy for these conditions, this blog is very helpful: Stem Cells for Cats: An Overview.

One VetStem recipient, a domestic short haired cat name Bender, received VetStem Cell Therapy for kidney disease and had a positive outcome. Bender’s renal issues began when he was four years old. He ingested an unknown poison and ended up in the emergency hospital on IV fluids for seven days. Following this episode, Bender’s bloodwork showed elevated kidney values and he was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease.

Bender

Bender’s owner began researching potential treatment options and came across the VetStem website. She requested a list of stem cell providers in her area and was referred to Dr. Mark Parchman of Bend Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center. Together, Dr. Parchman and Bender’s owner agreed to move forward with VetStem Cell Therapy.

To begin the process, Dr. Parchman collected fat from Bender. This fat was shipped to the VetStem laboratory and aseptically processed to extract Bender’s stem and regenerative cells. These cells were divided into doses and one dose was shipped back to Dr. Parchman for treatment approximately 48 hours after the fat collection. Bender received a series of three intravenous doses one week apart. The rest of his doses were cryopreserved for future treatment.

Approximately six months after his third stem cell injection, Bender’s owner stated that, “By all appearances he seems happy, healthy, playful, and active. Though he has suffered some permanent kidney damage.”

Approximately two years after his initial round of stem cell injections, he received a follow up intravenous injection from his stem cell bank. That was over three years ago and according to his owner he’s still doing well. His owner stated, “Bender is stable with basically high normal values, lots of energy, playful and continues to do very well considering he was so near not surviving. I believe that stem cell treatments have helped his body recover and remain stable over five years later. Thank you VetStem for blazing a trail for my cat.”

Bender is not the only cat with kidney disease to benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy. Other cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for the treatment of kidney disease and many have experienced positive outcomes. If your cat has kidney disease and you think VetStem Cell Therapy may help, contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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May 29, 2020

VetStem Biopharma Centennial Club

As the first company in the United States to provide adipose-derived stem cell processing services to veterinarians and their patients, VetStem pioneered the use of regenerative stem cells in veterinary medicine. Since 2003, VetStem has trained nearly 5,000 veterinarians across the United States and Canada to perform VetStem Cell Therapy. We have processed fat samples for over 14,000 patients and 30 different species of animals.

Twelve of our VetStem trained veterinarians have provided VetStem services for over 100 of their patients. The “Centennial Club,” as we like to call them, are among the most experienced adipose-derived stem cell providers in the country. Seven of the Centennial Club members are small animal veterinarians while the other five are equine veterinarians. The Centennial Club members are:

Small Animal
Dr. Kim Carlson of North Peninsula Veterinary Surgical Group
Dr. Jamie Gaynor of Peak Performance Veterinary Group
Dr. Jeff Christiansen of Superior Veterinary Surgical Solutions
Dr. Allyson Berent of Animal Medical Center of New York
Dr. Adam Gassel of Blue Pearl Pet Hospital of Irvine
Dr. Keith Clement of Burnt Hills Veterinary Hospital
Dr. Tim McCarthy formerly of Cascade Veterinary Referral Center

Equine
Dr. Ross Rich of Regenerative Therapy Consulting
Dr. Martin Gardner of Western Performance Equine
Dr. John McCarroll of Equine Medical Associates
Dr. Bill Hay of Tryon Equine Hospital
Dr. Scott Reiners of Mountain View Equine Hospital

Each of the above veterinarians has made VetStem Cell Therapy an integral part of their veterinary practice. They are all experienced in case selection and have seen many positive outcomes. We think it’s worth mentioning that two of the above veterinarians have reached even bigger milestones. Dr. Martin Gardner has surpassed 500 stem cell cases and Dr. John McCarroll has over 250 stem cell cases. Additionally, there are four more veterinarians who are approaching 100 stem cell cases.

Stem cells are regenerative cells that can differentiate into many tissue types. In both small animals and horses, stem cell therapy is most often used to treat orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis and injured tendons and ligaments. VetStem Cell Therapy has shown to reduce pain and lameness and improve quality of life and return to work for horses. If you would like to locate a VetStem provider near you, please contact us.

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May 22, 2020

VetStem CEO Joins ACRM Board of Directors

The American College of Regenerative Medicine (ACRM) has asked VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, to join their board of directors. As the CEO and co-founder of both VetStem and human subsidiary, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc. (PSC), Dr. Harman has nearly two decades of experience working with stem cells and regenerative medicine.

VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman

The first of its kind, the ACRM is a multi-specialty, interdisciplinary medical organization. The ACRM was formed to promote the science and ethical use of regenerative medicine with a strong emphasis on global interdisciplinary collaboration. Board members include medical doctors and surgeons, a dentist, a registered nurse and our very own veterinarian, Dr. Harman.

The ACRM’s mission statement encompasses everything from physician and patient education to safety and scientific advancement. While regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy is not new, there is still much to learn about regenerative cell therapies. The ACRM is fully committed to patient safety and a high standard of care. Like VetStem and PSC, the ACRM advocates for patient safety by following FDA guidelines and maintaining compliance.

The interdisciplinary focus of the ACRM will allow for the amalgamation of knowledge and expertise from doctors across multiple fields. Dr. Harman brings nearly two decades of experience with regenerative medicine in the veterinary field to share. With the launch of PSC in 2018, Dr. Harman can also provide insight into human regenerative medicine and FDA approved stem cell clinical trials. We hope this “One Medicine” approach will ultimately lead to understanding regenerative cell therapies more fully and open the door for additional FDA approved regenerative treatment options.

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May 15, 2020

The Importance of Storing Stem Cells

Posted by Bob under Dog Stem Cells, Stem Cell Storage

At VetStem, we have the potential to store stem cells from each patient whose fat we process. It is our general protocol to store a small number of stem cells from each fat sample for potential future use. Known as the Retention Sample, this small number of cells affords us the ability to provide stem cell treatments for the life of the patient from whom the cells came. More on that later.

Storage of Stem Cell Doses for Future Use

In addition to the Retention Sample, VetStem has the ability to store any unused stem cell doses from the initial stem cell process. How does this work exactly? Let’s say your dog has bilateral hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis and your veterinarian plans to give your dog an injection of stem cells directly into each hip as well as an intravenous injection. Three injections equals three doses. But suppose the fat sample from your dog had enough cells to provide six doses. Well, those extra three doses would then be cryopreserved for potential future use. And then down the line, if your dog started showing signs of discomfort, your veterinarian could request those three doses for a second stem cell treatment.

The Retention Sample Can Be Used to Provide More Doses

In keeping with this same scenario, your dog has now had two rounds of treatment, three injections each time. Therefore, all six doses from the initial fat processing have now been used. That is where the Retention Sample comes in. Our standard protocol is to store a small number of cells from every fat sample that we process. For a fee, the Retention Sample can be put into culture to grow more stem cells. The cultured stem cells will be genetically identical to your dog’s original stem cells. And once the culture process is complete (it takes approximately 3-4 weeks), your dog will have usable stem cell doses again.

Cryopreservation of Stem Cells

Cryopreservation of stem cells allows the cells to maintain their functional properties. When stored at very low temperatures, the cells can be stored for long periods. Normal biological processes are slowed allowing the regenerative properties of stem cells to remain intact. Cryopreserved cells will last the lifetime of your pet.

With the ability to culture and store extra stem cell doses, your pet should only have to undergo one fat collection procedure. Having extra doses available for use also eliminates waiting time. We ship stem cell doses out Monday through Friday and can work with short notice in most cases. This is especially beneficial for some of the animals who are battling life threatening conditions such as kidney disease.

If your pet has cells stored at VetStem and you have questions regarding those stored cells, do not hesitate to contact us! We can be reached by phone at 858-748-2004, email, or through our contact page. Alternatively, if you would like to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area, contact us here.

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May 8, 2020

An Update Regarding Pets and COVID-19

Posted by Bob under COVID-19

In a recent blog, we discussed animals from around the world who tested positive for COVID-19. To summarize, the number of positive cases were few and all shared one commonality: they were in close contact with a human caregiver/owner who was infected with COVID-19. Of the small number of cases, even fewer showed clinical signs. While one 17-year-old dog passed away, it was presumed that he died from ongoing health issues and other age-related concerns. The rest of the animals recovered, or were expected to recover, without incident. According to the CDC, “Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.”

Lion at the Bronx Zoo

In the weeks since that blog was published, a small number of new cases have been reported. As reported in the previous blog, the first case that was confirmed and reported in the United States was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo. The tiger, along with several other large cats, developed a dry cough and reduced appetite. One of the affected large cats, a lion, was tested a few weeks after the tiger and tested positive for COVID-19. It is believed that the animals were infected by a human caregiver who did not have symptoms but was actively shedding the virus. The affected cats are reported to be recovering well and no other animals at the zoo have shown symptoms.

Two Cats in New York

In addition, two domestic cats in New York have now tested positive for COVID-19. The cats were from different households and cities and both showed symptoms of respiratory disease. One cat lives in a household with an owner who has COVID-19 and a second cat that has had no clinical signs of illness.

The second cat to test positive for COVID-19 in New York is an indoor/outdoor cat. The cat does not live with an owner who has a confirmed case of COVID-19. It is suspected that this cat contracted COVID-19 from an owner who was asymptomatic or from contact with the virus outside of the home.

Pug in North Carolina

Making headlines recently was a pug in North Carolina who showed symptoms of respiratory disease and tested positive for COVID-19. The pug’s human family all have COVID-19 however another dog and a cat in the same house were negative. His owners stated, “(The dog) licks all of our dinner plates and sleeps in my mom’s bed, and we’re the ones who put our faces into his face. So, it makes sense that he got (coronavirus).” Confirmatory testing is still being conducted at USDA’s National Veterinary Service Laboratory. If those tests are confirmed, the case will be reported to the OIE – the World Organization for Animal Health. Winston, the pug, is already doing better.

The number of animals who have tested positive for COVID-19 remains low, thus the CDC does not currently recommend routine testing. If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of infection, call your veterinary provider. If you or a family member is sick, the CDC recommends you avoid contact and practice cleanliness when interacting with your pets. The CDC also recommends keeping cats indoors and dogs on leashes, avoiding interaction between your pets and other pets/humans, and avoiding places like dog parks and other areas where people and dogs gather.

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May 1, 2020

PSC Prepares to Launch COVID-19 Clinical Trial – You Can Help

Posted by Bob under COVID-19, Stem Cell Therapy

Our human stem cell company, Personalized Stem Cells, Inc. (PSC), recently announced that they filed a request with the FDA for expedited review of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with stem cells. PSC was asked by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to apply for expedited review through a new FDA program called the Coronavirus Therapeutic Accelerator Program (CTAP). CTAP was launched to help expedite the approval process of clinical trials for promising COVID-19 therapies.

Stem Cells for COVID-19

Recent studies evaluating the effects of stem cell therapy in COVID-19 patients have come out of China and Israel showing strikingly positive results. Stem cells have anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to reduce scar tissue formation. Stem cell therapy has the potential to reduce the serious lung complications that occur as a result of infection with COVID-19. The goal of treatment is to reduce time spent in the ICU, reduce ventilator needs, and increase chances of survival for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

PSC has scaled up production of stem cells in their FDA-inspected facilities to be ready to provide stem cell treatments upon FDA approval. If approved, the initial COVID-19 clinical trial, termed “CoronaStem 1,” will provide treatment for twenty hospitalized COVID-19 patients with serious complications. The first trial will be conducted in a limited number of local San Diego hospitals. PSC anticipates additional approvals and potential compassionate use in the future to allow for many more patients to be treated.

How can you help?

As a small business, PSC is utilizing their own resources to ramp up stem cell production. However, supplies and laboratory technicians are necessary to further increase production of stem cells. PSC plans to provide stem cell treatments to COVID-19 patients at no cost to the patient which requires additional money to pay the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who will be performing the clinical trial. Thus, PSC is reaching out to the public for donations to help in this fight against COVID-19. Your tax-deductible donation will allow PSC to provide stem cell treatments for as many COVID-19 patients as possible. All donations will go towards increasing stem cell production and paying doctors, nurses, technicians, and all those involved in performing the medical procedures for the clinical trial.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all, many of us are looking for ways in which we can help. PSC has partnered with the San Diego Foundation, a 501c3 organization, to collect tax-deductible donations to further PSC’s efforts. Learn more about how your donation can help PSC fight COVID-19.

You can make a difference! Click here to donate today.

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