"We treated a 1 ½ year old German Shepherd cross patient with severe and early-onset hip dysplasia. The options for this great dog were to perform hip replacement surgery on both hips, or to utilize his own stem cells to provide relief so that he can live a more normal life without the constant pain. We began by taking fat tissue from “Lucky” in a surgical procedure on Monday.  He went home that afternoon.  We sent the tissue to Vet Stem Laboratories in California by Fed Ex overnight mail." Dr. Ed Mapes Explains the procedure.

"Vet Stem derived stem cells from the tissue on Tuesday, and we received the package of cells on Wednesday morning.  Lucky was in the hospital and waiting for the arrival, and we did the procedure that morning.  We injected .6 cc of stem cells into each hip joint, and then injected 5 cc intravenously. Lucky went home on pain meds for ten days and is on a physical therapy plan while the stem cells work their magic.  We normally expect results in about one month, and re-evaluate then." He continued.

Meanwhile, VetStem has stored the remaining stem cells for future use.

Written by Dr. Ed Mapes, the following describes stem cell therapy:

Regenerative Medicine:
Stem Cell Implantation in Small Animal Therapeutics

Regenerative Medicine is a broad definition for innovative medical therapies that enable the body to repair, replace, restore, and regenerate damaged or diseased tissues.

Vet-Stem Regenerative Medicine uses adult stem cells derived from the animal’s own fat tissue to treat traumatic injuries and degenerative diseases such as ligament injuries, osteoarthritis and cartilaginous arthritic conditions of dogs and cats. These are most often chronically painful disorders that rob animals of mobility and diminish quality of life.

This technology now gives us another means to counteract these conditions that was not available only a few years ago.  We can help these animals rather than let them suffer or put them to sleep.

Differences in Regenerative Medicine compared to traditional medicine:

  • Regenerative cell mixture is delivered either directly to the traumatic wound (e.g.: tendonitis, joint, fracture) or delivered systemically via intravenous injection (e.g.: liver disease, renal disease)
  • Stem cells can differentiate into many tissue types, induce repair, and stimulate regeneration by local cells and tissues.
  • Regenerative cells "communicate" with the cells of their local environment, creating the optimal environment for natural healing
  • Regenerative cells produce a variety of substances that regulate tissue growth, integrity, and function
  • Stem cells are multipotent – which means that they can differentiate into different types of tissue depending on the body’s requirement.  This includes tendon, ligament, bone, cartilage, cardiac, nerve, muscle, blood vessels, fat, and liver tissue (see figure below). The stromal fraction that is harvested from adipose tissue is a heterogeneous mixture of regenerative cells (see Figure 1 below).

Stem cells that we deliver to the patient travel to the site of injury or disease and stimulate regional cells of many types to perform their function to achieve pain control, regeneration, and healing.


Mechanisms for success…

These stem cells, derived from the patient’s own fat tissue, are able to communicate with other cells in their local environment. Until recently, differentiation was thought to be the primary function of regenerative cells.  However, their functions are now known to be much more diverse and are implicated in a highly integrated and complex network. Stem cell therapy should be viewed as a complex, yet balanced, approach to a therapeutic goal. Unlike traditional medicine, in which one drug targets one receptor, implanted stem cells can be applied in a wide variety of traumatic and developmental diseases, and can produce healing wherever they’re delivered.

When a patient has been diagnosed as having a disorder amenable to stem cell therapy, a surgical procedure is performed to harvest fat tissue.  This tissue is specially prepared and overnight shipped to the Vet Stem Laboratories in California.

There, the tissue undergoes a rigorous and stringent process to derive the multipotential stem cells to be used in therapy.  This material is shipped back to our hospital.

The stem cells are delivered to the patient via the technique indicated according to the specific ailment.  For example, a dog with hip dysplasia will be prepared for sterile surgery and will be lightly anesthetized for the procedure.  Stem cells are injected directly into the affected hip joint(s), and then a measured dosage is delivered intravenously by way of a sterile catheter.  The patient is awakened, and is usually released from the hospital the same day.

Depending on circumstances, a course of laser therapy and/or rehabilitation may also follow the treatment. Please see the links below for more information about this exciting mode of treating our pets, and to view video illustrating actual patients.  We have been certified to provide this therapy to our patients at Stonebridge Animal Hospital.