What is regenerative medicine?
According to the National Institute of Health :”it is the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to age, disease, damage, or congenital defects. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by stimulating previously irreparable organs to heal themselves”.
There are many new cutting edge methods for repairing or replacing damaged tissue. Some examples include 3D printing, growing new organs, and using the body’s own tissues to heal the body. In veterinary medicine we are now using stem cells and platelet rich plasma (PRP) to help repair joints and ligaments, treat back pain, and potentially treat some neurological diseases.
Hopewell Animal Hospital is proud to be able to offer our patients both PRP therapy and stem cell therapy, right in house.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
PRP is a product of the patient’s own blood. We obtain a blood sample and this sample is processed to concentrate the platelets which are then injected into joints, trigger points, ligaments, or the spine to help repair damaged tissue and help manage osteoarthritis.
So why Platelets?
Platelets and the liquid plasma portion of the blood contain many factors that are essential for cell recruitment, multiplication and specialization which are required for healing. They can also help stimulate localized stem cells which are also beneficial in healing.
What is involved in the procedure?
PRP is a fairly simple process. It is a concentration of one type of cell, known as platelets, which circulate through the blood and are critical for blood clotting. Whole blood is obtained from the patient, the amount of blood taken depends on the size of the dog and the number of areas that we are trying to treat. The blood is then passed through a special centrifuge and processed to obtain the platelets. The patient is then given a light sedative and the platelets are injected into the area, the sedative is usually reversed and your dog is ready to go home within about 30 minutes.
What about side effects?
Because the platelets are taken from the same patient they are given to, there is no risk of allergic reaction or rejection. Your dog will be shaved and the area that will be treated is surgically prepared. An intravenous catheter is placed during the sedation for their safety. Typically you can expect your pet to be sore for a couple of days after the procedure. Your dog should not have any anti-inflammatories such as steroids or non steroidal anti-inflammatories 1 week prior and 2 weeks post treatment. We have other medications to manage pain should they be needed.
How long does it last?
A typical treatment should last about 6-8 months, possibly longer. Because PRP is made from your dog’s own blood, the process can be repeated at any time.
Stem Cell Therapy
There are two types of stem cells, embryonic (arise during fetal development) and mesenchymal (present in regular adult tissues). In animals our use of mesenchymal stem cells is called autogenous, this means that they come from the patient’s own body.
What do stem cells do?
Stem cells provide many of the same benefits as PRP with some additional benefits. One benefit is that stem cells last longer, a treatment can last as long as a year. Stem cells also increase new blood vessel formation into damaged tissues and joints. Stem cells demonstrate a process called homing, this allows the cells to target and flow to damaged tissue.
Where do stem cells come from?
Stem cells are generally taken from two locations, the first is adipose or fat tissue and the second is bone marrow. In order to get an appropriate sample, your dog will be placed under general anesthesia. In the case of adipose tissue, we remove some internal fat from the abdomen. In the case of bone marrow, we will obtain samples from the large bone in the rear leg called the femur.
How are they processed?
Adipose tissue is placed in special containers and is sent overnight to a laboratory in California. The tissue is processed and the stem cells are purified. We will have been in communication with the laboratory and informed them of how many areas we plan to treat. Depending on the size of the dog and the recovered amount of stem cells, a sterile amount of cells will be returned to us the next day to be injected into your dog. We may also inject a sample intravenously to help “jump start” the healing. In the case of bone marrow, we process the bone marrow in the office and inject it back into your dog at the same treatment session.
What is the difference between bone marrow cells and adipose cells?
Adipose cells have the ability to be stored. Any cells that are not used at the time of the initial treatment can be stored at the laboratory in California. This lab also has the ability to “grow” more cells as we need them so we do not have to obtain another sample. We simply call the lab and they will process the sample and let us know when it is ready for use. Bone marrow cells, on the other hand, are a single use product and if further treatments are needed we have to obtain another sample.
How can I obtain more information?
For more information about adipose stem cells please review the website of VetStem.
For more information about PRP or bone marrow stem cells please review Companion Animal Health’s website.
See photos of PRP therapy
For a recent peer reviewed article on stem cell therapy click here