Sep 16, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy for Pain Management in Pets

Posted by Bob under Pain in Pets, VetStem Cell Therapy

Animal Pain Awareness Month continues and this week we are discussing stem cell therapy for pain management in pets. As most of our readers know, thousands of animals have experienced an improved quality of life as a result of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. While stem cells have many mechanisms of action including the ability to differentiate into many tissue types and stimulate the regeneration of tendon, ligament, and joint tissues, they also have the ability to reduce pain and inflammation.

Stem Cells Can Reduce Inflammation

The ability of stem cells to regulate inflammation is important when it comes to pain management. Through cellular communication, stem cells are able to limit inflammatory responses and actually shift from a pro-inflammatory environment to an anti-inflammatory environment. By reducing inflammation, stem cells promote healing and increased comfort.

Stem Cells Directly Modulate Pain

While a reduction in inflammation can lead to increased comfort, current literature supports that stem cells also have the ability to address both acute and chronic pain directly. Initial impressions about the functions of stem cell therapy have focused on healing, regeneration, and reduced inflammation, while more recent studies have looked at the ability of stem cells to directly modulate pain. The recent literature demonstrates that stem cells secrete pain blocking cytokines (small proteins), which can have opioid-like effects. Interestingly enough, these effects can actually be reversed by Naloxone, an opioid antagonist.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Pain Management

Veterinarians see and treat pain in their patients every day. There are numerous treatment options available including medications, devices, and surgery. Stem cells are another tool veterinarians can employ to treat pain in pets. VetStem Cell Therapy has the advantage of being a readily available, natural source of anti-inflammatory and pain blocking cells. This can be especially beneficial for cats and some dogs who do not tolerate anti-inflammatories well.

If you think your pet may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

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Aug 12, 2022

Leo’s Story: VetStem Cell Therapy for Cruciate Ligament Tear

Did you know that cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common reasons for hind limb lameness, pain, and subsequent knee arthritis in dogs? While there are multiple treatment options available, both surgical and non-surgical, treatment with stem cells may accelerate and improve healing within the joint. Numerous dogs have received VetStem Cell Therapy for cruciate ligament injuries. Generally speaking, stem cells are more effective when the ligament is only partially torn. In many cases, a full tear will still require surgery.

Leo’s Stem Cell Story

Leo is a 92-pound German Shepherd. One day, after jumping out of his owner’s SUV, he yelped and held his right rear leg up. Two veterinarians confirmed that Leo had partially torn his cruciate ligament in his right knee. While dogs of any size can be affected by this injury, large breed dogs tend to be more at risk.

Leo

Initially, Leo’s owners took a conservative approach to manage his condition. Non-surgical treatment usually involves some combination of anti-inflammatory and pain medications, exercise modifications, joint supplements, rehabilitation, and possibly braces/supports. Unfortunately, conservative medical management is not always successful, and after months of leash walks only, Leo’s symptoms worsened.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Cruciate Ligament Tear

After months of research, Leo’s owners elected to try VetStem Cell Therapy as opposed to surgical repair of the injured ligament. Stem cells are regenerative cells that can reduce pain and inflammation, reduce the formation of scar tissue, help to restore range of motion, and stimulate regeneration of tendon, ligament, and joint tissues. Additionally, according to surveys answered by owners and veterinarians, greater than 80% of dogs showed an improved quality of life after receiving VetStem Cell Therapy for orthopedic conditions.

To begin the process, Leo’s veterinarian, Dr. Chris Forstall of SouthShore Animal Hospital, collected fat tissue from his abdomen during a minimally-invasive anesthetic procedure. The cells were aseptically packaged and shipped to the VetStem processing laboratory. Lab technicians processed the fat to isolate and concentrate the stem and regenerative cells contained therein. These cells were packaged into separate stem cell doses, two of which were shipped to Leo’s veterinarian for treatment, while the rest were put into cryopreservation for potential future use.

Approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection, Leo received one injection of his own stem cells into each knee. You may be wondering why Leo’s veterinarian injected both knees, as opposed to just his injured knee. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, 40-60% of dogs who injure one cruciate ligament will go on to injure the other cruciate ligament in the future. Because of this, many veterinarians choose to treat both knees with stem cells, even when there is only one injured knee. This prophylactic approach may reduce or delay the possibility of injuring the second knee.

Leo Improves after VetStem Cell Therapy

According to his owner, Leo showed improvement just one month after treatment. His owner stated, “Leo is improving every day. We are thrilled that VetStem banked Leo’s stem cells for future use. I’m looking forward to him improving even more. Thank you for offering this cutting-edge therapy!”

Leo’s initial stem cell process yielded several additional doses that are currently cryopreserved. Cryopreservation of stem cells allows them to maintain their functional properties so that they can be used in the future should Leo require them.

If your dog has suffered from a partial cruciate ligament tear, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to find a VetStem provider near you.

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Jul 15, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy for Immune-Mediated Disease

VetStem Cell Therapy is primarily used for the treatment of orthopedic conditions in dogs and horses. It is also used, with some frequency, for non-standard indications in cats such as chronic kidney disease and gingivostomatitis. Another non-standard indication that is treated in both dogs and cats, as you may remember from this previous blog, is inflammatory bowel disease.

These and other non-standard indications fall under VetStem’s clinical research department. This means that there are minimal published studies demonstrating effectiveness of stem cell therapy in the treatment of these diseases and VetStem is conducting their own research to help determine if stem cells are a viable treatment option. Clinical research cases are approved on a case-by-case basis, as stem cells are not appropriate for all disease processes.

Stem Cells Have Immunomodulatory Functions

The truth is, we don’t yet fully understand the entirety of what stem cells are capable of. That is one of the reasons why stem cell research for the treatment of various diseases is so important. While the research is ongoing, there is some evidence to suggest that stem cells have multiple immunomodulatory functions. That is, they have the ability to modulate the immune system. Thus, it makes sense that they may be helpful in controlling immune-mediated diseases.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Immune-Mediated Disease

Veterinarians have utilized VetStem Cell Therapy for a number of immune-mediated diseases. We mentioned a few of them earlier: gingivostomatitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). That’s right, the literature suggests that both gingivostomatitis and IBD are immune-mediated diseases. Additional immune-mediated diseases that have been treated with VetStem Cell Therapy with some success include keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS, or dry eye), immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), and immune-mediate polyarthritis (IMPA).

As we mentioned above, the research is ongoing so we can’t say with certainty that stem cell therapy will help in every case. Additionally, diseases present differently from patient to patient. Thus, treatment outcomes will also vary. Stem cell therapy is not a miracle cure-all treatment option. But it is a natural alternative to the potentially damaging immunosuppressive medications that are commonly used to treat immune-mediated diseases.

If you think your pet may benefit from VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Jul 8, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy for Aquatic Animals

We recently shared information about our work with elephants in this blog. But elephants are not the only exotic animals that VetStem has worked with. We have provided cell therapy services for a number of exotic species including, but not limited to, large cats, bears, rhinos, giraffes, and several aquatic animals as well. Recently, VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman, presented regenerative medicine innovations at an aquatic animal medicine conference.

Aquatic Animal Medicine

The International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM) conference took place virtually over two weeks. Experts in the field gave lectures on various aquatic animal medicine topics including VetStem CEO, Dr. Bob Harman. Dr. Harman presented information about the use of regenerative medicine, particularly VetStem Cell Therapy, in aquatic animals.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Aquatic Animals

VetStem has worked with various exotic animal organizations across the United States to provide stem cell therapy for several species of aquatic animals. We have provided cell therapy services for dolphins, penguins, sea lions, sea turtles, and more. Aquatic animals have received stem cells for various conditions including arthritis, corneal conditions, and acute injuries such as a sea turtle who was injured by a propeller.

Stem Cell Use in Exotic Animal Medicine

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are regenerative cells with numerous mechanisms of action and can be applied in a wide variety of traumatic and developmental diseases. MSCs can differentiate into many tissue types, reduce pain and inflammation, induce repair and regeneration, and stimulate the formation of new blood vessels. MSCs also secrete anti-microbial molecules and have been used to treat several viral diseases including COVID-19 in people.

As leaders in the field of regenerative veterinary medicine, we take our job very seriously when it comes to the research and development of innovative regenerative medicine treatments for animals and diseases that have minimal treatment options. Maintaining the health and well-being of endangered exotic animals is particularly crucial and has become a community effort, bringing together veterinarians, scientists, and those in the animal health field across the globe. We are happy to contribute to the mission and will continue our own research to develop potentially life-saving stem cell treatments for these animals.

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Jul 1, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy Gets Explosive Detection Dog Back to Work

When our pets are in pain, we will do whatever we can to make them more comfortable. That is why so many pet owners elect to have their pet treated with VetStem Cell Therapy. They all have one primary goal: to improve their pet’s quality of life. Keeping our pets happy and healthy is incredibly important. But when a dog’s pain is not only affecting their quality of life, but also their ability to perform very specialized tasks, getting them back to top shape is crucial.

Jax

That is the case with Jax, a German Shepherd and an explosive detection dog in Florida. Jax seemed to limp ever since he was a puppy. An X-ray revealed that he has bilateral hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. Hip dysplasia is a deformity in the ball and socket joint of the hip that eventually leads to osteoarthritis. It is a painful condition that can greatly reduce a dog’s quality of life. And of course, it affected Jax’s ability to perform on the job.

Fortunately, Jax’s veterinarian, Dr. Jeff Christiansen of Superior Veterinary Surgical Solutions, recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Dr. Christiansen has been utilizing VetStem Cell Therapy for over a decade and has previously provided stem cells for working police dogs.

To begin the process, fat was collected from Jax’s abdomen in a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was processed at the VetStem processing laboratory to extract and concentrate the cells contained therein. Three injectable doses of Jax’s own stem cells were shipped to Dr. Christiansen for treatment. Jax received one injection into each hip and one intravenous dose.

According to his owner and handler, Jax responded well to the treatment. He stated, “Jax is a year and a half and, well, to say he’s a fantastic pup is an understatement. His limping is gone and he’s a typical GSD.” Jax received a follow up treatment with one IV dose approximately nine months after his initial treatment using some of his stored stem cells. Approximately two months after his second treatment, Jax’s owner said he is rocking the bomb work!

We love hearing stem cell success stories, especially when the treatment helps animals return to their important jobs like Jax! Keep up the good work, Jax!  

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Jun 10, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy Helps Cat with Gingivostomatitis

We’ve talked about treating feline gingivostomatitis with VetStem Cell Therapy a few times on this blog. But sometimes we need more than just the science to describe how this treatment can potentially help cats. So this time, we will share a success story. Finn is a Siamese cat with gingivostomatitis who experienced an improvement in his symptoms after treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy.

Gingivostomatitis Symptoms

At just five months old, Finn was diagnosed with gingivostomatitis. Gingivostomatitis is a debilitating condition characterized by chronic inflammation of the affected cat’s gums. It can be very painful and lead to inappetence, reduced grooming, and weight loss. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. Common treatments include lifelong medical management with antibiotics, steroids, pain medications, and/or full mouth teeth extractions.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Gingivostomatitis

Current literature supports the notion that gingivostomatitis is an autoimmune disease. Mesenchymal stem cells have demonstrated the ability to migrate to areas of inflammation, down-regulate inflammation, modulate the immune system, stimulate neoangiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), and repair damaged tissue. Additionally, a recent clinical study demonstrated that intravenous administration of adipose (fat) derived stem cells could ameliorate the clinical signs of gingivostomatitis. While more research is needed, preliminary results suggest that VetStem Cell Therapy can improve the symptoms of some cats with gingivostomatitis.

Finn’s Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

Finn

Finn’s owners tried several medications in an effort to improve his symptoms, but nothing worked. They were determined to not have all of his teeth extracted and were willing to do whatever it took. His veterinarian recommended treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy and just shy of his first birthday, Finn received stem cell therapy.

To begin the process, fat was collected from Finn’s abdomen during a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was sent to the VetStem processing laboratory. Lab technicians processed his fat to extract and concentrate his stem and regenerative cells and Finn received one intravenous injection of his own cells. Approximately four weeks later, Finn received a second intravenous dose using some of the stem cells banked from his initial fat collection.

According to his owners, Finn responded well to the treatment. His owner stated, “[the stem cell treatment] seemed to improve and maintain his condition especially over time so that Finn is happy, healthy, and living a great life. We plan to administer cells every year or so to keep his condition manageable and hopefully keep him healthier too.”

If your cat has gingivostomatitis, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers in your area.

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Jun 3, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy for Canine Allergies

As some of you know all too well, many dogs suffer from “allergies,” otherwise known as Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD). CAD is a genetic disease that predisposes a dog to certain allergen sensitivities. The allergen(s) are environmental such as pollens, molds, dust mites, dander from other animals, or normal skin organisms.

What is Canine Atopic Dermatitis?

While there is still much to learn about CAD disease, we have learned that atopic dermatitis occurs due to a skin barrier defect, which allows allergens to absorb deeper into the skin where the immune system can access them. Thus, when an atopic dog comes into contact with the offending allergen(s), their body creates a skewed immune response leading to an allergic reaction.

Traditional Treatments for Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Though there are numerous potential treatment options for CAD, most of them are geared toward controlling the dog’s itchiness and do not cure the condition. Some of the more conventional treatment options include frequent bathing with specially formulated shampoos, as well as oral and injectable medications. CAD is a lifelong disease that requires lifelong management and unfortunately, treatment can be time consuming and expensive.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Multiple veterinarians have utilized VetStem Cell Therapy to treat atopy in both dogs and cats. While the research is limited in this disease, there is some promising anecdotal evidence. Some veterinarians have reported an improvement in symptoms after treatment with stem cells. In some cases, patients have required less allergy medication than before stem cell therapy.

That being said, some patients have not experienced improvement in symptoms. So, while we can’t say that stem cells will help every dog with atopic dermatitis, we do believe that some may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy based on the responses reported from the veterinarians and owners who have implemented it. As with most medical treatment options, each patient will respond differently so results cannot be guaranteed.

If you think your allergic pet may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to find a VetStem provider near you.

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May 20, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy for Canine Cruciate Ligament Tears

Cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common reasons for hind limb lameness, pain, and subsequent knee arthritis in dogs. Additionally, according to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, 40-60% of dogs who injure one cruciate ligament will go on to injure the other cruciate ligament in the future. While there are multiple treatment options available, both surgical and non-surgical, treatment with stem cells may accelerate and improve healing within the joint.

Risk Factors for Cruciate Ligament Rupture

Unfortunately, no dog is completely safe from a cruciate ligament tear. However, there are certain risk factors that make cruciate ligament tears more likely. The cause of canine cruciate tears is likely multi-factorial and include breed, activity level, reproductive status, body weight, body condition, conformation, and even immune system variables. Canine cruciate ligament rupture ultimately results in degradation of the joint structures which leads to degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis.

Treatment Options for Cruciate Ligament Tears

There are several treatment options for cruciate ligament tears which may depend on the severity of the injury. Common treatment recommendations include rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical rehabilitation, and surgical repair. While surgery may be indicated for complete tears, partial tears can sometimes heal without surgical intervention. Unfortunately, degradation of the joint and subsequent osteoarthritis will likely still occur with or without surgery.

VetStem Cell Therapy for Cruciate Ligament Injuries

The goal of using VetStem Cell Therapy for cruciate ligament tears in addition to surgery and other standard treatments is to halt or reduce the progression of osteoarthritis and thereby improve the dog’s condition long-term. By halting or reducing the development of osteoarthritis in the knee, a dog will experience less discomfort and better functional ability. Stem cells help to achieve this by migrating to areas of inflammation and reducing inflammation, stimulating tissue repair, and reducing scar tissue formation.

If your dog has experienced a cruciate ligament tear, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

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May 13, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy Helps Senior Lab Walk Again

We absolutely love hearing stem cell success stories from pet owners. But some stories are extra touching because it’s clear that VetStem really improved a pet’s quality of life. That’s the case with Molly, a senior chocolate lab who was suffering from severe osteoarthritis and a potential spinal condition.

Molly

Osteoarthritis and Neurological Issue?

Molly has severe osteoarthritis (OA) in her hocks (ankles) and her left elbow. With a noticeable limp in her left front leg, one veterinarian called her elbow a mess after seeing X-rays of the joint. But Molly’s condition quickly deteriorated when one day she suddenly couldn’t walk at all. According to her owners, she was unable to bear any weight on her back legs and her back paws knuckled under when her owners tried to help her stand.

Her veterinarian worried that Molly may have a neurological issue such as a herniated disc in her spine, which can sometimes lead to being unable to walk. An MRI was offered however Molly’s owners elected to use the money to have Molly treated with VetStem Cell Therapy instead.

Treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy

Molly’s veterinarian, Dr. Rebecca Wolf of Metropolitan Veterinary Associates, collected fat tissue from Molly’s abdomen during a minimally invasive anesthetic procedure. The fat was aseptically packaged and shipped to the VetStem laboratory in Poway, California where VetStem lab technicians processed the fat to extract and concentrate the stem and regenerative cells contained therein. Molly’s cells were divided into doses and four stem cell injections were shipped to Dr. Wolf for treatment. Approximately 48 hours after the initial fat collection procedure, Molly received one stem cell injection into each hock, her left elbow, and intravenously.

Molly Regains Her Ability to Walk!

According to her owner, Molly had a great response to the stem cell therapy. Just two weeks after her injections, Molly was able to support her own weight with assistance. At her one month recheck appointment, Molly was able to take a few steps. And just shy of two months post-stem cell therapy, Molly was walking on her own again. When her back paws were flipped over, she righted them within two seconds.

Molly’s owner stated, “She is walking again on her own and without assistance, and she is definitely limping less on that front elbow. While we do realize at her age and the severity of arthritis in her joints that she won’t be a puppy again, I would definitely expect her to continue to improve and continue to be mobile. I would do this again for her in a heartbeat, and we are so thankful this technology exists. Thank you, VetStem, for giving us back our happy girl.”

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common diseases in dogs and pain associated with osteoarthritis can greatly reduce a dog’s quality of life. If you think your dog may benefit from treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy, speak to your veterinarian or contact us to find a VetStem provider near you.

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Mar 11, 2022

VetStem Cell Therapy in Dog with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

It happens occasionally that a pet is treated with VetStem Cell Therapy for one condition, such as osteoarthritis, but the owners notice that a separate condition improves as a result of the therapy. That was the case with Finn, a German Shepherd who is owned by Dr. Lesley Gonzales of Gruda Veterinary Hospital.

Finn was adopted as an adult after he was found in the desert of Yuma, AZ. Thus, nothing was known about his previous medical history. From the get-go, he experienced gastrointestinal issues including chronic diarrhea, intermittent vomiting, and difficulty gaining and maintaining weight. After multiple tests ruled out infectious diseases, his veterinarian mom put him on a strict limited-ingredient diet, which helped to somewhat improve his symptoms but not entirely.

Finn

Then, in 2020, Finn partially tore his cruciate ligament. Due to his gastrointestinal issues, Finn was extremely limited on what medication he could take to help control his inflammation and pain. Thus, Dr. Gonzales decided to treat his knee with VetStem Cell Therapy. When she collected a sample of his abdominal fat for stem cell processing, she also took biopsies of his intestines, which allowed her to officially diagnose him with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

For his initial stem cell treatment, Finn received one dose of his own stem cells into his injured knee. He also received an intravenous dose. Stem cells have demonstrated the ability to home, or migrate, to areas of inflammation. Thus, we can assume that, when given intravenously, the stem cells would migrate to his knee and/or other areas that may have been inflamed. Within two weeks, Finn was noticeably more comfortable. His pain and lameness were much improved.

Approximately six weeks after his initial treatment, Dr. Gonzales noticed that Finn’s intestinal symptoms had also improved. According to Dr. Gonzales, his diarrhea resolved completely, and he was finally able to reach his ideal body weight. She also noticed improvements in his blood parameters.

Dr. Gonzales treated Finn with another dose of IV stem cells, this time specifically for IBD, approximately six months after his first treatment. She gave him a third IV dose approximately five months after his second. Finn has since experienced sustained control of his symptoms, he has maintained an ideal body weight, and he is now able to tolerate a greater variety of food ingredients without them upsetting his stomach.

IBD can be a frustrating disease. A definitive diagnosis can be time-consuming and costly, traditional treatments are life-long and can be complex, and the animal often continues to experience symptoms of the disease. Several dogs and cats have received VetStem Cell Therapy for IBD and have experienced an improvement in symptoms. Stem cells have shown to down-regulate inflammation, modulate the immune system, and repair damaged tissue, all of which can contribute to healing inflamed and diseased intestines. If your pet has IBD, speak to your veterinarian about the possibility of treatment with VetStem Cell Therapy. Or contact us to receive a list of VetStem providers near you.

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