Mar 8, 2019

Questions from a Recent Veterinary Conference

We recently exhibited at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This veterinary trade show is well attended due to its size, location, and plethora of educational opportunities.  I spent several days in the booth along with the team, meeting and speaking with veterinary professionals from across the globe.  These trade shows are always a good opportunity to connect with our current clients and educate future clients about Regenerative Veterinary Medicine.  Every year, we get a lot of good questions, some of which we think animal owners would like to know about as well.  Below we have answered some of the questions we received while at the conference.

  1. Why do you use fat-derived stem cells rather than bone marrow?

Fat tissue has been shown to have 100 to 500 times the amount of stem cells as bone marrow per amount of tissue collected.  On top of that, fat is generally plentiful and easily collected.  Because of this, culturing, or growing, more doses is usually not necessary and therefore cells can be returned for treatment within 48 hours after collection – a critical time for healing of acute injuries before scar tissue has formed – rather than several weeks.

  1. If stem cells are processed with an in-clinic system, is that more sterile than if the fat is sent to the VetStem laboratory for processing?

Simple answer: No. VetStem uses sterile Bio-Safety cabinets which are inside of hepa-filtered clean rooms.  As clean as your veterinary office may appear, you can’t get any cleaner than a “clean room” that is designed specifically to process stem cells.  We take sterility very seriously at VetStem, to the point that we may recommend delaying treatment if we feel a sample’s sterility has been compromised.

  1. Which is better, Platelet Rich Plasma or Stem Cell Therapy?

When speaking in terms of healing, we believe the “gold standard” is a combination of both stem cell and platelet therapy.  When the two are used together, they have a synergistic effect, meaning they work together to speed healing and reduce pain and inflammation.  Stem cells have a number of jobs including the down-regulation of inflammation and pain as well as tissue regeneration.  Stem cells also have the ability to home to areas of injury/inflammation.  While platelets contain many types of growth factors that help attract additional healing cells, they cannot respond to cellular signals, specific tissue needs, or the severity of the injury.  That being said, platelet therapy has its advantages.  For one, platelets are concentrated in a closed system (unlike the stem cell kits that aren’t a closed system) right in your veterinarian’s office so there is very little wait time between collection and treatment.  Also, platelet therapy is sometimes used when stem cell therapy is not financially possible.

  1. Does adipose-derived stem cell therapy work? How long do the effects last?

VetStem has been providing stem cell treatments for animals since 2004.  With over 17,000 treatments, including for multiple animals from the same veterinarians over the years, many have found benefit in using stem cell therapy.  But we’re going to be honest and say that it doesn’t work for ALL conditions and it doesn’t have the same effects for all patients.  Some patients do better than others and the results depend on a variety of factors including severity of the disease being treated, lifestyle of the animal, and the management of the patient after stem cell injection.  Just like with people, physical therapy is usually part of an orthopedic treatment plan. These same factors can contribute to the longevity of the effects of stem cell therapy.  We see dogs who receive one treatment and experience good results that don’t require another treatment for many years, if at all.  We also see dogs with severe joint disease that benefit from repeat treatments every six month to a year.  So again, it’s very case dependent.  Your veterinarian can help you to determine if your pet may benefit from stem cell therapy.

  1. Why should I choose VetStem instead of other stem cell companies?

There are many reasons why thousands of veterinarians and their pet owners have chosen to use VetStem services over other regenerative medicine companies.  We highlighted some of the important reasons in a previous blog that you can find here.

We hope these questions/answers have provided some insight into why VetStem is a leader in the field of Regenerative Veterinary Medicine.  We enjoy educating our peers, be they veterinarians, technicians or pet owners!  If you have further questions about Regenerative Veterinary Medicine or VetStem, feel free to contact us or speak to your veterinarian.  Or, to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area, submit a Locate a Vet request here.

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Mar 1, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Dr. Jeff Christiansen, DVM, DACVS

In this week’s blog, we’d like to introduce you to one of our many VetStem Credentialed Veterinarians, Dr. Jeff Christiansen.  Dr. Christiansen is a traveling surgeon that works out of Aloha Pet and Bird Hospital, Island Animal Hospital, Animal Specialty and Emergency Hospital, Maybeck Animal Hospital and a number of other veterinary hospitals. While he primarily works in Central Florida, Dr. Christiansen gets referrals from all over Florida and occasionally some other states including Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, and even Wisconsin!  His company, Superior Veterinary Surgical Solutions, was founded in July 2014, though he’s been practicing veterinary medicine since 1996.  Dr. Christiansen has been a board-certified veterinary surgeon since 2002 and is experienced in all manners of soft tissue, orthopedic, and spinal surgery.

Though VetStem credentialed since 2008, Dr. Christiansen treated his first stem cell patient in 2012.  Since then, Dr. Christiansen has treated over 100 patients utilizing VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy and, as such, is a member of the VetStem Centennial Club. In addition to VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy, Dr. Christiansen provides platelet therapy utilizing the Pall Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET™) kit.  Dr. Christiansen has been using V-PET™ since 2015.

We were able to tear Dr. Christiansen away from his busy schedule to get a little insight on how he uses VetStem Cell Therapy.  See his interview below:

  1. What do you like about stem cell therapy and why did you choose VetStem as your service provider?
    I like the idea of improving the ability of a pet to heal and to control inflammation.
    When we perform orthopedic surgery, the implants we use have a finite/limited ability to tolerate stress before breaking. The sooner a pet’s body heals, the sooner the pet is out of the risk for such problems.
    When I do joint surgery, I know I am improving the pet’s comfort and function, but they still get arthritis over time (just a lot more slowly than without surgery); but stem cell therapy can help the pet reduce the arthritis, and protect (and potentially repair) the cartilage, and it improves the pet’s short and long-term comfort and function.
    I chose VetStem for two simple reasons: Unparalleled quality control and client support.
    I see videos and hear reports of other stem cell companies that don’t practice sterile technique, and they are harvesting/processing the tissue in the same room in which hospitalized patients are contained, complete with the airborne hair and patient waste. VetStem has tissue harvested sterilely, processes it sterilely, examines it under the microscope to inspect the quality/sterility, and performs additional bacterial or other testing as indicated.
    Any time I have questions or concerns, I get rapid and complete responses from the appropriate staff members, and even the CEO of the company as indicated.
    Service is without fail. If I place an order, I get what I want, when I ordered it, always properly shipped, climate-controlled, protected, labeled, etc.

 

  1. How do you select your stem cell cases?  What criteria must they meet before you recommend stem cell therapy?
    I recommend stem cell therapy with any orthopedic surgery or as a treatment option for arthritis. I also recommend stem cell therapy for cases with spinal problems as well as for issues with kidneys, lungs, intestines.
    The pet must be healthy enough to tolerate a brief, minor surgical harvest, as well as an expectation to live long to enjoy the benefit of the therapy. I don’t recommend for patients with cancer or systemic infection.
    I also make sure the owner is realistic. Stem Cells can do great things, and sometimes a nearly crippled pet can play like a puppy again, but I make sure the owner appreciates the limitations of any therapy.

 

  1. Any advice for pet owners considering stem cell therapy for their pet?
    Most people appreciate holistic, natural options for their pets. If you could do something that would improve (and potentially extend) your pet’s daily and long-term comfort and quality of life without drugs and further surgery, wouldn’t you do it?
    I would also strongly encourage pet owners to get pet insurance. Because the benefits with stem cell therapy are so clear-cut, at least with arthritis, many stem cell companies pay most or all of the cost of stem cell therapy.

Thanks, Dr. Christiansen, for taking the time to speak with us!  If you live in or around Florida and are considering stem cell therapy for your pet, you are in excellent hands with Dr. Jeff Christiansen!

Dr. Jeff Christiansen with patient Ammo

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Feb 22, 2019

Stem Cell Therapy vs Surgery

Time and again, dog owners have told us that stem cells helped their arthritic dog avoid costly and invasive surgeries.  While stem cells may help to regenerate damaged soft tissue and reduce scar tissue formation, is it always a better option than surgery?  The answer largely depends on the situation at hand.

First and foremost, let us be clear that stem cells will not cure conditions such as hip dysplasia or degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis).  Joint dysplasia is a congenital disorder of a malformation of the joint.  This malformation will cause osteoarthritis which can be treated, but stem cell therapy will not realign or tighten the joint.  As for degenerative joint disease, because of the ongoing nature of changes in the joint(s) due to arthritis, stem cell therapy may not stop the degenerative process.  Stem cell administration may however provide pain relief due to the anti-inflammatory properties of stem cells and may also slow the degenerative process by stimulating cartilage repair/regeneration.

That being said, there are some surgical options that can cure joint dysplasia.  When it comes to the hips, the primary options are surgical procedures known as FHO (Femoral Head Ostectomy) and total hip replacement.  With an FHO, the veterinary surgeon will remove the head and neck from the femur (the ‘ball’ of the ball-and-socket joint).  As you can imagine, this procedure is invasive and not always successful, particularly in larger breed dogs.  A more modern approach is total hip replacement, which is similar to the human equivalent of joint replacement where an artificial joint replaces the damaged joint.  This procedure is not only invasive and costly, there are also a number of potential difficulties that may occur, which may lead to additional surgeries.

Sometimes however, surgery really is the better option.  Keep in mind, VetStem Cell Therapy can be used in conjunction with surgery.  Administering stem cells after a surgical procedure may help to reduce pain and improve healing. Oftentimes, we hear of dog owners who were told surgery was the only option, so they sought a second opinion.  Second opinions are rarely a bad idea when it comes to major health decisions.  Another option is to have your veterinarian consult with a VetStem staff veterinarian.  This can be arranged by having your veterinary office get in touch with our customer service team, who will set up a good time to speak with a VetStem veterinarian.  Your vet can discuss your dog’s specific case and what options may best help your companion.

Like you, we want what is best for your dog.  If we think that surgery is your dog’s best option, we will tell your vet that.  Ultimately, the decision to pursue stem cell therapy instead of, or in conjunction with, surgery is one you should make with your veterinarian.  We advise you to do your research, ask questions, and seek a second or even a third opinion if you still aren’t sure.  VetStem is here to help in any way that we can.  If you’d like a list of stem cell providers in your area, please contact us here.

Ruby received VetStem Cell Therapy and avoided total hip replacement.

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Jan 18, 2019

Horse Treated with Stem Cells 10 Years Ago and Still Winning!

CP Merritt is a great stem cell success story.  Some of you may remember a blog from many years ago about Merritt’s stem cell treatment and recovery.  If not, you can read the original blog from 2012 here.

As a quick refresher, Merritt originally had his right rear fetlock treated by Dr. John McCarroll of Equine Medical Associates in 2007.  After the treatment, Merritt bounced back to win two Top Tens in Show Hack and Saddle Seat Equitation at Youth Nationals.  His owners considered him a “Medical Miracle.”

Recently, Merritt’s owner reached out to us to give us an update on their beloved horse.  Though it’s been over 10 years since Merritt was treated with stem cells, he continues to compete at a champion level!  He was the 2018 Arabian Horse Association Region XI Champion in amateur English trail and the Reserve Champion in open English trail.  You can read Merritt’s full story here.

If your horse has suffered an injury that is affecting his/her performance, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of VetStem Cell Therapy.  Or you can contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Jan 11, 2019

Canine Back Pain: Can Stem Cells Help?

Posted by Bob under Dog Back Pain, Dog Stem Cells

“Canine Back Pain” is a broad term that encompasses pain felt in any location along a dog’s back.  Because the back is such a complex structure, this pain can result form a variety of causes which may be difficult and costly to diagnose.  Spinal structures, nerves, and the surrounding soft tissues may all be involved as sources of canine back pain, but the exact location may be hard to pinpoint.

In recent years, cell therapy has emerged as a treatment option for human lower back pain.  While most of the clinical work has focused on intradiscal injections, recent methods have become less invasive, utilizing injection into the muscles surrounding the spine.  Stem cells may reduce inflammation and modulate pain, thereby leading to the patient being more comfortable.

In a recent stem cell success story, we discussed Sam, a German Shepherd who has arthritis in his lower spine.  Following treatment with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy, Sam’s range of motion increased along with his activity level.  You can read Sam’s story here.

While the results of the human clinical trials appear promising, using stem cells to treat canine back pain is still in the early stages.  We cannot emphasize enough what a complex structure the back is and, as such, stem cells may not work for every condition that causes canine back pain.  If your dog is experiencing back pain, the best place to start is with a veterinarian examination.  Your vet can help determine what is causing your dog’s back pain and whether or not stem cell therapy may be an option.  Need help finding a vet?  Contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Jan 4, 2019

Shar-Pei Receives Stem Cells for Arthritic Knees

Posted by Bob under Dog Arthritis, Dog Stem Cells

Gracie-Allen is a nine-year-old Shar-Pei.  Over the years, her knees developed arthritis that eventually began to slow her down.  In late 2017, Gracie was taken to her veterinarian, Dr. Nancy Hampel of VCA Animal Medical Center of El Cajon, who determined that Gracie had mild arthritis in her knees and recommended stem cell therapy.

Gracie was scheduled to have an anesthetic dental cleaning the following March, so her owners elected to wait until then to have the fat collected for stem cell therapy.  Scheduling your dog’s stem cell procedure at the same time as another routine procedure can be a good idea for dogs that are older or otherwise not great candidates for anesthesia.  Collecting the fat for stem cell therapy is a relatively quick and minimally invasive procedure that can potentially be done at the same time as a dental cleaning, spay/neuter, etc.  Speak to your veterinarian about your options for stem cell therapy.

Within 48 hours of the fat collection, Gracie received three stem cell injections: one in each knee and one intravenously.  It only took a few days for Gracie’s owners to notice a difference in her behavior and activity.  You can catch up on Gracie’s story here.

We recently checked in with Gracie’s owner and got a shining report!  Here is what Gracie’s mom said:

“Gracie is doing great.  She now stands on her hind legs to look over fences.  It was something she used to do and it hadn’t dawned on me that she had stopped until she started looking over a wood fence for Annie (Bulldog) when we go on our walks.  She sometimes jumps off our front porch and back on instead of using the step and she flies up and down stairs in the house.  She will stand on her hind legs and does a dog paddle when I ask her ‘what do horses do’ and sits on her bottom (with front legs off the ground) and dog paddles when I ask her to ‘sit pretty’ and ‘sit pretty patty cakes’.  I had stopped asking her to do these tricks since it became obvious that she didn’t want to do them, but now she will start the trick before I finish the question.  She oozes happy . . . which makes us very happy.”

Arthritis is a common problem that can affect all breeds of dogs.  If your dog is slowing down, limping, or less active than they were before, check with your veterinarian to determine if your dog has arthritis.  You can also contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Dec 28, 2018

Stem Cells for Muscle Injuries

Posted by Bob under Dog Muscle Injury, Dog Stem Cells

As you probably noticed, our primary focus in this blog tends to be arthritis.  We occasionally discuss torn cruciate ligaments and also have a few blogs about various disease processes that may be helped with stem cells.  One thing we have not spent much time on is stem cell therapy for muscle injuries.

Muscle injuries are not uncommon in the athletic dog.  Typical therapies for muscle injuries include rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical rehab.  Unfortunately, these therapies generally do not prevent the formation of fibrosis (scar tissue) or muscle contracture which ultimately leads to functional impairment.

In a study done on two police dogs (both German Shepherds) with injuries to their semitendinosus muscle, both dogs returned to the line of duty with a normal gait and no signs of lameness after receiving VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.  This study was, in fact, the first report of using stem cells to treat skeletal muscle injuries in dogs.

If your dog has injured a muscle, speak to your veterinarian about whether VetStem Cell Therapy may help.  Or you can contact us for a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Dec 21, 2018

Horse Wins Division Championship After Stem Cell Therapy

Posted by Bob under Horse Stem Cell Therapy

Anthony, a competitive hunter-jumper, faced a real challenge when he tore his right meniscus in 2014.  Luckily, Anthony’s mom Lisa contacted experienced stem cell provider, Dr. Ruth-Anne Richter of Brandon Equine Medical Center.  Anthony received VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy in January 2014 and again in June 2014.

After taking some time off to recuperate, Anthony began competing again.  Between 2016 and 2017, Anthony took a few reserve championships.  But earlier this year, in March 2018, Anthony won grand champion in the Adult Maiden Division at HITS VIII Ocala Winter Finals.  This was a dream come true for Lisa.

You can read more details about Anthony’s stem cell treatment here.

If your horse has suffered an injury, stem cell therapy may help to get him/her back under the saddle.  VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy has been used in horses since 2004 and has been shown to help relieve potentially career ending injuries such as in Woody’s case and Zan’s case.  Speak to your veterinarian today or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Dec 14, 2018

Large Breed Dogs and Arthritis: VetStem May Be the Answer

Jack is a Great Pyrenees.  As the name of the breed suggests, he is a great big boy.  Unfortunately, large breed dogs tend to develop orthopedic issues such as arthritis as they age.  Unfortunately, Jack was diagnosed with hip dysplasia at a very young age.  He wasn’t even a year old when he began showing symptoms of arthritis. 

His mom, Rebecca, acted swiftly and visited veterinary surgeon Dr. Andrea Hayes of Boone Animal Hospital.  Dr. Hayes gave Rebecca a few options including total hip replacement and treatment with VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.  After much deliberation, Rebecca selected the least invasive option: stem cell therapy.

Jack received his first round of injections in 2014 and improved greatly!  Approximately four years later, Jack received a second round of stem cell injections and again had a great response.  You can read more details about Jack’s stem cell treatment and results here.

Unfortunately, Jack’s story is not uncommon.  Large breed dogs tend to develop orthopedic issues such as arthritis as they age, that is, if they’re lucky enough to not be born with a condition such as hip dysplasia that can lead to arthritis while they are still young.  Fortunately, stem cell therapy may help to relieve symptoms of arthritis and can potentially help dog’s avoid invasive and costly major surgeries.  Keep in mind, StemInsure is a great option for large breed puppies that will likely develop arthritis down the road.

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Dec 7, 2018

Platelet Therapy: A Complement to Stem Cell Therapy

In addition to stem cell processing services, VetStem distributes platelet therapy kits to small and large animal veterinarians across the United States and Canada.  Platelet therapy is similar to stem cell therapy in that the patient’s own cells are collected, concentrated, and then reinjected into the affected area.  Unlike stem cell therapy, platelet therapy requires a blood collection and the process of concentrating the healing cells is performed by your veterinarian in the clinic.

How does platelet therapy work?  The scientific answer is that platelets activate by exposure to damaged tissue, releasing their granular contents which include anabolic growth factors.  These growth factors help attract progenitor cells to the injury site and play a key role in stimulating tissue repair through fibroblast expansion and cellular matrix production.  In other, less technical terms, when the concentrated platelets are injected into the site of damaged tissue, the platelets signal additional healing cells to migrate to the affected area to begin the process of tissue repair.

The great thing about platelet therapy is it can be performed in conjunction with stem cell therapy to further aid the healing process.  In our opinion, stem cell and platelet therapies are very different regenerative medicine solutions that can work synergistically. They each have their place and can benefit patients in different circumstances. We see the combination of adipose stem cell therapy and platelet therapy as the “platinum standard” for regenerative medicine.  While the idea of stem cell therapy is to deliver as many regenerative cells to the affected area as possible, by adding platelet therapy on top of it, additional healing cells will migrate to the area to further stimulate local tissue repair processes.  And like stem cell therapy, platelet therapy is autologous, meaning the animal is both the donor and the recipient.  Thus, there is minimal risk of rejection and reaction when performed under sterile conditions.

Our primary platelet therapy product for small animals is Pall Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy or V-PET™.  We’ve seen much success with V-PET™ such as in Pippa Rose’s case and Pearl’s case.  But, similar to stem cell therapy, every patient’s response will vary.  Your veterinarian can best determine if your dog may benefit from platelet therapy.

If you have questions or would like VetStem to help you locate a platelet therapy provider near you, please contact us.  To read more about platelet therapy and success stories, click here and here.

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