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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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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Feb 14, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day from VetStem!

Posted by Bob under VetStem Biopharma

Happy Valentine’s Day to our loyal readers!  We wanted to do something special for this love-filled day, so we thought we’d introduce you to some of our four-legged best friends.  Our pets bring so much love and joy into our lives, why not dedicate a blog to them?!  Read below to meet some of our furry friends!

“This is Bella.  She’s a 13-year-old Yorkie-Poo and she is the Queen of the house.  She greets us every day with the exuberance of a puppy and as if we’ve been gone forever.  We love her like crazy!” -Tracy, VetStem Buyer

“I know that no matter how bad of a day I have had, I can always count on one of my cats to come sit on my lap and make me feel needed and loved.” Kristi, Director of Commercial Operations

Pyewacket and Scarf (Super Doofus Oriental Shorthair)
Phini (Oriental Shorthair)

“Ben is not only my hiking companion, he also serves to alert me to the presence of rattlesnakes when on the trail.  He’s a great hiker and even carries all of his own supplies in his pack.” Dr. Bob Harman, CEO

Ben (Border Collie)

“These are my sweet 6-month-old kittens, Zipper and Buttons. They are two rowdy little boys who love to eat, sleep, and get into trouble. I love them because they take my stress away. They are there on good days and bad and always seem to have a way of making me smile, especially when they purr.” Madalene, Laboratory Manager

Zipper
Buttons

“Providing a safe area outside for Frankie, my Maine Coon, is one of the many ways I show him I love him.” Sue, Director of Clinical Development

“These three fuzzy creatures love unconditionally.  Willow is such a good guard dog and the cats just sleep and cuddle all day.  They are so good with our rowdy toddler, despite all of her poking and prodding and attempts to ‘ride’ them.  We loved them before she came, and we love them even more now for being the best big sisters/brother a baby could ask for!”  Ashley, Marketing Coordinator

Pius (orange and white) and Portia (tortie)
Willow (Chocolate Lab)

“This is Kodiak, a 10-year-old Australian Shepherd.  What is great about him is he’s constantly wanting to be active and always excited to play catch or go on a hike!” Jon, Laboratory Assistant

“Born about one month apart, these two boys are brothers from another mother.  Jasper makes the greatest faces.  Koda is a big lover – and totally food driven.” Carolyn, COO

Koda (white Lab), Jasper (light brown Lab)

“My five cats make my life better by providing affection and entertainment. I can’t imagine sitting on the couch and not being covered in cats.  We call our five dogs our herd of herders. There is never a dull moment at our house, as at least one of them is up to some sort of mischief at all times- except when they’re all sleeping!” Whitney, Customer Service Representative

Flynn (mini Aussie), Brogan (Aussie mix), Piper (Border Collie), Luca (Australian Shepherd), and Duncan (Mini Aussie)
Kolohe, Lilly, Squirrel, Keone, and Ali’I
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Jan 31, 2020

VetStem 2019 Year in Review

Posted by Bob under VetStem Biopharma

As we close out the first month of 2020, we wanted to share some highlights from 2019.  Here is VetStem’s 2019 year in review.

In 2019:

  • VetStem provided stem cell processing services for over 800 patients.
  • We trained over 60 new veterinarians to use VetStem Cell Therapy.
  • Over 80 veterinarians began using VetStem services and/or products for the first time.

WHEW!  It was a big year for us!  Thank you to our veterinary colleagues and pet owners who have entrusted us with the processing of your patient’s and pet’s stem cells.  Here’s to a great 2020 for everyone! 

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Nov 22, 2019

Documentary Featuring VetStem Receives Another Award

Posted by Bob under VetStem Cell Therapy

In our blog about translational medicine, we announced that VetStem was featured in an award-winning documentary, Animal Pharm: Where Beasts Meet BiotechThe film was included in the Brentwood and Pacific Palisades International Film Festival in Los Angeles, California where it received the award for Best Nature and Animals Film.

The documentary focuses on regenerative veterinary medicine as a means of improving the quality of life for domestic and wild animals and heavily features VetStem, including an interview with VetStem Founder and CEO Dr. Bob Harman.  Dr. Harman explains that when he first conceived of and formed VetStem, he was called “crazy.” Over time however the thinking has evolved so that regenerative medicine is now regarded as a legitimate and valuable tool for veterinarians.

We recently received the exciting news that the film will be featured in the Palm Beach International Mini Movie and Film Festival on December 9th in Palm Beach, Florida.  Not only will the film be featured, the producers will also be presented with the award for Best Documentary!  Congratulations to everyone involved in the making of the film.

We are proud to be a part of this film and believe that it provides a great service to the public by providing legitimate education about cell therapy in the veterinary field and how this can assist the field of human stem cell therapy.    

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Jun 21, 2019

Meet Sue, VetStem’s Director of Clinical Development

In this week’s “Meet VetStem” blog series, we introduce you to Sue, our Director of Clinical Development.  Sue has been with VetStem from the get-go and with her level of experience, she wears many hats.  In her role as Director of Clinical Development, Sue helps Dr. Bob Harman and Kristi oversee the compassionate use stem cell cases.  She also handles the exotic animal cases such as Francis, the sun bear from the San Diego Zoo.  In addition to this, Sue works closely with our Quality Assurance and R&D teams to conduct and manage clinical studies and collect and analyze post-study data.  Perhaps one of her most important roles at VetStem is that of Animal Safety Advocate.  In this role, Sue oversees the safety of all patients treated with VetStem Cell Therapy to identify and remedy any potential risks associated with treatment.

Sue has a BS from UC Davis and is a Certified Animal Health Technician.  Prior to joining VetStem, Sue worked in various animal and scientific fields.  Her animal experience ranges from grooming and training dogs to working with dairy cattle and pigs.  She has trained her own dogs in various activities including obedience, scent hurdle racing, herding, and agility but mostly just how to be a pleasant part of the family.  Animals have been a part of her family for as long as she can remember including dogs, cats, birds, and horses.

Sue and Dr. Harman share two adult children, Kristi and Kevin, both of which were homeschooled at various points in time before college.  They currently own 6 cats, 3 dogs, 2 horses, and several birds.  Two of their dogs, Ben and Sally (pictured below), can be seen hanging around the VetStem office on a regular basis.  In her free time, Sue enjoys trail walks, especially near bodies of water.  She also enjoys studying about various holistic therapies and tries to apply them to herself and her family, both 2 and 4 legged.

Sue’s commitment to patient safety and quality assurance is unparalleled.  With her level of knowledge and attention to detail, Sue is an essential member of the VetStem team.  Thank you, Sue for your hard work and dedication!

 

Sue

Kristi and Kevin

Sally

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Apr 5, 2019

VetStem Cell Therapy Helps Arthritic Sun Bear at San Diego Zoo

In case anyone missed our recent news release, we wanted to share an exciting story about a sun bear named Francis.  Francis is a 21-year-old resident of the world-famous San Diego Zoo.  Several years ago, he was diagnosed with arthritis in his ankle, for which he has been receiving treatment to keep him comfortable.  Last Spring, however, Francis began showing signs of arthritis in additional joints, so a CT scan was performed.  The results revealed that he had arthritis in several joints, the worst of which was in his hips and elbows.  Though he was prescribed additional pain medications, San Diego Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Deena Brenner felt additional treatment was needed.  That’s where we come in.

VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy has been used to treat over 14,000 patients for a variety of ailments including arthritis and soft tissue injuries.  The Zoo reached out to VetStem to inquire about stem cell therapy for the sun bear, after which Francis underwent a fat sample collection just like our dogs, cats, and horses do.  His fat was processed at the VetStem laboratory to create injectable stem cell doses of Francis’ own stem and regenerative cells.  And in September 2018, with the assistance of local San Diego veterinary surgeon, Dr. Holly Mullen, Francis received stem cell injections into his arthritic joints and also intravenously.

According to the article that came out in the March 2019 issue of ZooNooz, three keepers evaluated Francis before and after he received VetStem Cell Therapy and found that his symptoms were reduced and he was climbing more!  VetStem received follow-up evaluations at 60- and 90-days post stem cell therapy and he reportedly continued to do well.

We feel very fortunate and proud to be able to help special creatures like Francis.  While stem cell therapy for zoo animals is not yet widely practiced, success stories like this may lead to broader applications of the therapeutic modality for all animals.

Francis
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Mar 22, 2019

Veterinarian Highlight: Dr. Holly Mullen DVM, DACVS

This week we present another veterinarian highlight telling about her experiences with Regenerative Veterinary Medicine!  Dr. Holly Mullen is a Regenerative Veterinary Medicine proponent and also happens to be right in our backyard in San Diego, California.  Dr. Mullen is a board-certified surgeon who works at VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center.  Dr. Mullen received her DVM from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1985.  She then went on to complete an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the Animal Medical Center in New York City (AMC) followed by a residency in small animal surgery also at AMC.  She received her board certification in veterinary surgery in 1990 and was staff surgeon at AMC until joining her current hospital in 1995.

Dr. Mullen has been offering VetStem Cell Therapy since 2007 and has provided stem cell services for over 60 stem cell patients.  She has also been utilizing Veterinary Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET™) since 2015.

  1. Explain why you’re a big proponent of VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy.

Regenerative medicine (stem cells and PRP [platelet rich plasma]) is an important part of my surgery practice.  VetStem’s excellent customer relations, high quality control and careful processing and storage of the cells are a few of the many reasons I feel very comfortable using this company for my patient’s stem cell needs. Regenerative medicine offers a new frontier for minimally invasive, effective and safe treatments for many diseases and conditions. I offer stem cell therapy to the majority of my orthopedic surgical patients and arthritic patients, but it can also be used to help patients with medical conditions such as kidney, liver, bowel and skin diseases. I have offered stem cell therapy as a treatment modality since 2007, after taking the VetStem Credentialing Course for veterinarians. Since then, I have been very pleased with the high rate of successful response to treatment in my dog and cat patients; over 95% of my patients have had excellent responses to treatment. I have also participated in stem cell therapy in both a sea lion and a sun bear, with similarly good results. I am a big proponent of VetStem Regenerative Cell Therapy because I see the huge positive difference it makes in the lives of my patients and their families.

  1. Please describe your ideal stem cell patient- what criteria must they meet in order to recommend stem cell therapy?

The ideal stem cell patient is a dog or cat who is suffering from a condition that we know stem cells can help with. They should be healthy enough to undergo the brief anesthetic procedure to harvest the fat from which the stem cells will be extracted. They also should not have conditions such as severe muscle atrophy that might prevent them from having a good response to treatment. Some patients with advanced cancers, in very debilitated body condition, and/or multiple serious medical concerns may not be good candidates for stem cell therapy. While often results seem miraculous, stem cell therapy cannot “cure everything”. However, dogs and cats with significant arthritis can walk comfortably, chronic wounds and fractures can heal, and post-op joint surgery patients can walk sooner and be more comfortable after having regenerative therapy.

  1. What advice can you offer pet owners considering stem cell therapy for their pet?

My advice is to educate yourself now about stem cell therapy and ask your veterinarian if it would help your pet. Also, give stem cell therapy a try if your veterinarian recommends it! It is safe and effective, almost all patients have very good results and it may reduce or prevent the need for other standard medications or even surgical procedures in some cases. Be sure to visit the VetStem web site for a thorough explanation of stem cell and PRP therapies; don’t miss the testimonials to read how other pet parent’s experiences have been. Ask your friends and relatives if they have had regenerative medicine treatments themselves; a portion of my patients were brought to me by owners who knew someone, or themselves had had stem cell or PRP therapy with positive results and wanted the same for their pet. Regenerative Cell Therapy is amazing!

We appreciate Dr. Mullen taking her time to participate in this week’s veterinarian highlight!  If you are in the San Diego area and are looking for an experienced stem cell provider, Dr. Mullen is an excellent choice!  As she stated, she has had many successful stem cell and platelet therapy cases including Knuckles and Pearl.  (And did you catch that part about working with a sun bear?!  Stay tuned for some exciting news…)

Dr. Holly Mullen

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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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