Pet Owners Stem Cell Therapy

What is a stem cell?

A stem cell is a type of cell that is able to differentiate into a variety of other cell types such as those found in bone, cartilage, fat and in many other tissues and organs. Although stem cells were first isolated from the bone marrow, more recently fat (adipose) tissue has become a popular source since fat is usually reasonably abundant and also easy to access. Stem cells obtained from fat are called “adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs).

How do stem cells work?

Stem cells are used in regenerative medicine to repair damaged tissues and organs. In theory, injecting stem cells into a joint affected by osteoarthritis should promote tissue repair. In reality, how stem cells work is much more complicated and not everything is understood. Initially, they may reduce both inflammation and pain in the affected joint, and in the longer term may stimulate repair and healing.

Will stem cell therapy be effective in my dog?

We provide stem cell therapy as a management option for osteoarthritis in dogs. Osteoarthritis is a painful chronic condition in which the surfaces of the affected joint wear down. It can be particularly debilitating for a dog reducing mobility and quality of life. The stem cells are isolated from a small biopsy of fat tissue taken by the vet from the region just inside the tummy or behind the shoulder of the dog. The fat sample is sent to us at Veterinary Tissue Bank where our scientists isolate the stem cells and grow them in culture to the numbers required for treatment (over 5 million cells per joint). When ready, usually within 10 days or so, we return the stem cells to your vet who then injects them directly into the affected joint(s).

In our experience, following treatment most dogs show a rapid and marked reduction in pain and inflammation, resulting in improvements in mobility and activity, usually within 2-3 weeks. However, some dogs show better, more positive, responses to stem cell therapy than others. Again the reasons for this are uncertain, but initial disease activity and other complicating factors may play a role. The positive effects on the joint of stem cell therapy will last for many months but may begin to wear off over time. All clinical studies report on follow up for only six months and it is likely that a second injection of stem cells is needed. We store additional cells frozen in our facility so repeat injection is easy and does not require repeat surgery. You will have a self-assessment questionnaire which is validated against osteoarthritis to monitor the progress of the dog.

See our success stories in the newsletter        Donor Tales 2014

What do I do next?

If you have a dog affected by osteoarthritis and are interested in stem cell therapy you can raise the issue with your vet. You may also like to contact us to find out more information and we will be happy to liaise with your vet. First, your vet will examine the dog to make sure the stem cell treatment is appropriate and the dog is fit for treatment. Then, a small fat sample is collected from your dog under general anaesthesia and is sent to us for stem cell isolation and culture expansion. The cells are then returned to your vet for injection. Additional cells are stored frozen at our facility. The injection is done under sedation and general anaesthesia is not necessary. The entire process should take about 2 weeks.

Stem cell therapy how it works graphic

OrthoStemC™cell therapy service is run by veterinary surgeons and scientists. We continue to collect the post injections clinical data whenever possible. We recognise that after the initial injection the improvement from the lameness lasts a few months and the lameness returns. At this stage, another injection is needed. It is believed that after the second injection the dog stays without lameness for a far longer period. We store the cells frozen for many years so that subsequent injections can be given without having to return to harvest the fat sample again. OrthoStemC™ package includes cells for the first injection and the second injection, including the storage of cells. 

 See our Stem Cell Flyer for Dog Owners