Over recent years, stem cell therapy has changed the lives of many dogs and cats, with different conditions being improved through the advance of this field of science. Our Clinical Director at Leadon Vale Veterinary Centre, Rachel Mowbray, is highly skilled and experienced in such transplants, with her ground-breaking work forming part of a growing body of evidence showing that stem cell therapy can be used to improve pain and disability within the pet population.
What treatment involves
An essential part of the treatment is the initial assessment, during which when your pet's health is thoroughly assessed before under-going an extremely detailed examination of orthopaedic pain and function loss. There is often more than one area causing the symptoms and, following this examination, treatment of all discovered issues will drastically improve the success of the procedure. Diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or ultrasound scans are carried out if these have not already been performed.
During the stem cell harvest, a small amount of fat is acquired from the patient. This is taken to a specialist laboratory where the cells are cultured and multiplied before being transplanted into affected joints or tissues where they regenerate into healthy tissue. Stem cell therapy provides an alternative treatment that really can improve the quality of life of your pet where more traditional therapies have failed. In many cases, the need for long term painkilling medications is reduced.
Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy
When stem cells are injected in a concentrated form, they help tissues to repair by performing a number of tasks, including:
- Differentiation into surrounding tissue type, e.g. if there is damage to the cartilage in an arthritic joint, the stem cells can become chondrocytes (cartilage cells)
- Activation of surrounding resident stem cells to further help the repair of tissues.
- Recruitment of other cell types, the release of cytokines and growth factors to accelerate healing and tissue repair
- Regulation of inflammatory cytokines to reduce inflammation
- Stimulation of new blood supply
- Protect cells from death
- Create a biological scaffold for healing tissues by forming extracellular matrix
- Reduction and/ or elimination of scar tissue/fibrosis.
- Immune modulation
How can stem cell therapy improve pet wellbeing?
Osteoarthritic conditions can respond very well to stem cell therapy. Therapy aims to enable pets to be able to enjoy exercise and reduce the need for painkilling medication.
Conditions which are commonly treated with stem cells therapy can include:
- Degenerative Joint disease
- Tendon injuries or tendinopathies
- Ligament Injuries
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Certain spinal conditions such as spondylosis, Lumbosacral disease and intervertebral disc disease.
- Fracture repair
- Osteochondral defects
Tendon and ligament injuries in sports and working dogs.
Tendon and ligament injuries are very common in active dogs and can take a long time to heal due to the low blood supply to these tissues. Conservative treatment often results in scar tissue formation, with the risk of re-injury being high as strength and flexibility are affected. Stem cell therapy aims to heal the tendon or ligament through the regeneration of normal fibres without scar tissue.
In these cases, ultrasound guidance is used to target the stem cells directly into the site of injury, as well as being used to monitor the repair process. For severe tendon and ligament injuries, that have resulted in ruptures or complete tears, surgical intervention is required - injecting stem cells around the damage results in fibres regenerating, which strengthen over time, rather than scar tissue forming. Using regenerative medicine for these injuries increases the chances of the dog returning to full athletic activity.
Some examples of commonly treated tendons and ligaments include:
- Supraspinatus tendon
- Biceps tendon
- Iliopsoas tendon
- Achilles tendon
- Carpal, tarsal and stifle collateral ligament
- A cranial cruciate ligament (partial tear)
In addition, stem cell therapy has also been used to treat a small number of animals who have suffered from the below conditions:
- Renal failure
- Chronic nephritis
- Liver failure in Liver cancer
- Auto-immune disease
- Lupoid onychodystrophy
- Skin defects
- Allergic skin disease
- Feline diabetes
- Feline gingivitis stomatitis complex
- Nerve damage
- Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
Please contact us on 01531 632276 to discuss the suitability of treatment for your pet with any of these conditions.