Stem cells have been in the news in recent years because they can grow and differentiate into many types of cell types, with much promise for treating a variety of diseases and injuries. Mention the term "stem cells" to family and friends, though, and you are likely to get a variety of responses and opinions. Why is this? Probably because much of the early research on these cells originated from human embryos, and there are many ethical and legal debates about the procurement and usage of these cells.1
Scientists are now utilizing stem cells of different origins; opening up the research and treatment options for humans and pets. Differing from embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells are procured from a variety of tissues, including skin, fat (adipose) and bone marrow, among other tissues2. Adult stem cells are less controversial because the samples are easily obtained and the "host" is not destroyed, as with an embryo.
Stem cells can differentiate into many cell types as they develop, including bone, cartilage, nerves, muscle, and so on. Thus, treatment using stem cells is termed "regenerative medicine" and has many potential uses for a wide variety of diseases and injuries.
What type of stem cells are used to treat animals?
Treatment of injured racehorses began with adipose-derived stem cells. Now, both horses and dogs are being treated in veterinary clinics around the US using a licensed stem cell service by Vet-Stem, Inc. Adipose tissue is utilized because it is readily available and stem cells can be collected in large concentrations.
How are stem cells collected?
Veterinarians must be credentialed by Vet-Stem before using this service. Adipose tissue is collected surgically by the referring veterinarian; only about two tablespoons of adipose are needed.
How are the stem cells processed?
Once the sample is collected, it is shipped overnight in specialized packaging to the Vet-Stem laboratory. The next day, the stem cells are collected from the adipose tissue and shipped back to the veterinarian via overnight service. The next day (day 3), the veterinarian injects the cells into the injured tissue of the patient.
What diseases and injuries are currently treated with stem cell therapy?
Joint, bone and ligament injuries of horses and dogs are being treated with stem cell therapy at this time. This includes everything from arthritis to tendon/ligament injuries to fractures.
What are potential treatments with stem cell therapy?
Stem cell medicine holds much promise for a variety of diseases, including liver, kidney, heart, neurologic and immune-mediated diseases.
Where can I find out more about stem cell therapy and Vet-Stem?
- What is Vet-Stem Regenerative Medicine?
- Reducing the Use of Pain Medication With Stem Cell Therapy
New "Vet-Stem Culture" expands the supply of stem cells
- Effect of Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem and Regenerative Cells on Lameness in Dogs with Chronic Osteoarthritis of the Coxofemoral Joints: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Multicenter, Controlled Trial
This article originally appeared in Veterinary Therapeutics Winter 2007 (Vol 8, No 4)
Click on Page 2 for some Vet-Stem success stories. If you are a veterinarian and are interested learning more about stem cell therapy, please see the credentialling information for Vet-Stem therapy on their web site.
Embryonic Stem Cell Controversy:1 Controversy surrounding human embryonic stem cell research - Wikipedia
Adult Stem Cells:2Types of Adult Stem Cells - Wikipedia