Man’s best friend could be given a new lease of life thanks to recent advancements in stem cell therapy.
Around the world, dogs suffering from osteoarthritis are responding well to stem cell injections, which restore greater mobility and regenerate worn-out joints.
“The results are very satisfactory and promising. The lack of any complications in the dog should be taken into account when considering this treatment in other species, including man”, said lead investigator, Dr Offer Zeira of Tavazzano con Villavesco in Lombardy.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a prolific condition in animals and humans alike. It involves the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone, resulting in pain, stiffness and reduced movement.
It is thought 20% of dogs suffer from osteoarthritis.
What does treatment involve?
Stem cell therapy for dogs is a great deal simpler than for humans. Collection and application can even take place on the same day.
The process begins with veterinarians harvesting a few tablespoons of fat cells from a pet’s abdomen or shoulder.
These cells are then spun in a centrifuge to separate the stem cells, before being mixed with enzymes to digest remaining fat.
Finally, the veterinarian mixes stem cells with plasma rich platelets extracted from the dog’s blood. The mixture can be further stimulated under LED light for 20 minutes.
What are the results?
In Italy, a veterinarian has overseen more than 130 stem cell procedures for arthritic dogs. 78% responded within one month of receiving a stem cell injection while 88% responded within six. Moreover, none of the dogs suffered from major complications.
Elsewhere, another study of more than 150 dogs found improvements in joint stiffness, mobility and other joint health indicates in nearly 95% of arthritic cases. Vets also saw unexpected improvements in other areas, such as with skin conditions.
In some pets, improvements were noticeable in as little as a week – others took up to 90 days and required multiple injections.
There are also promising results using stem cells to treat osteoarthritis in humans.