Stem cells are the body’s “master cells” from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated.
Stem cells have three defining properties: they are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods; they are unspecialized; and they can give rise to specialized cell types.
Adult-derived mesenchymal cells are generally harvested either from the patient’s bone marrow or from adipose tissue. Both bone marrow-derived and adipose-derived stem cells have the ability to differentiate into cartilage, bone, tendons and ligaments for repair and regeneration. To date, there have been no studies to support a superiority of bone marrow versus adipose-derived stem cells for regenerative therapy.
Bone marrow-derived stem cells are typically obtained under a brief anesthesia or heavy sedation. A needle is inserted into the medullary cavity (center of the bone) and the cells are aspirated with a syringe.
Although there are numerous locations where fat may be collected, a recent study presented at the American College of Veterinary Surgeons Symposium revealed that thefalciform ligament (fat on the most superficial surface inside the abdominal cavity) was the recommended location (due to quantity and quality of cells).
The falciform fat is obtained through a small incision along the cranial abdominal area. Once the fat sample is obtained, the tissues may be immediately processed in-house and injected the same day or processed and shipped to a university for culturing.
At the Center for Regenerative Medicine, injections are performed under ultrasound guidance or arthroscopy for soft tissue injuries (tendons, ligaments, etc.) or fluoroscopic guidance for joint or spinal injury.
These injections are performed by specialists board certified by the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation who have considerable experience with these types of regenerative treatments. The injections are performed under sedation or a brief anesthesia as an outpatient procedure.
Tendon injuries, ligament injuries, augmentation following primary surgical repair, osteoarthritis and spinal conditions are most commonly treated using stem cell therapy.
For the body to recover following an injury, the tissues must first heal.
Healing through true tissue regeneration rather than scar tissue formation is preferable. In most cases, orthopedic devices such as braces, orthotics and supports are required to protect the tissues as they heal and regenerate.
Rehabilitation therapy enhances patient recovery by preserving range of motion and addressing proprioceptive and compensatory issues. Once the tissues have healed, rehabilitative therapy focuses on strengthening and reconditioning for long-term protection from reinjury and to return the patient to full function.
Yes, regardless of the type of stem cell therapy performed, stem cells can be banked for any necessary future treatments. Although rare, a second injection is sometimes necessary to achieve complete healing. For the treatment of osteoarthritis, for example, it is not uncommon to require a second injection 9 to 12 months following the first injection.
Stem cell therapy is an option for any age or breed of dog.
If you believe your dog is a candidate for stem cell therapy and wish to obtain more information, we recommend setting up a consultation at VOSM and/or downloading our free Stem Cell Therapy In Dogs white paper.
Dr. Sherman Canapp, Director of the Center, is actively engaged in clinical trials to objectively assess treatment response to various regenerative medicine processing techniques, combination therapies, and treatment protocols. His data has been presented at national and international conferences. His clinical findings have been published in a peer-reviewed human regenerative medicine journal and additional papers are in progress for publication in peer-reviewed veterinary journals.
In addition, we have the privilege of collaborating with leaders in the fields of human regenerative medicine and equine medicine: Dr. Victor Ibrahim, Dr. May Jacobson, and Dr. Jennifer Barrett, respectively. These partnerships ensure that we stay abreast of leading-edge regenerative treatment options, enriching our therapies for the canine community.