Stem cell therapy offers new treatment options for pets and humans

by MORGAN IAN ADAMS ,  the enterprise bulletin | 2012-06-13

Basil probably wouldn't understand he's on the leading edge of veterinary medicine.

Not that the five-year-old hound would much care at this particular moment; he's deep in an induced slumber, as Dr. Tina Gray delicately trims about 40 grams of fat from behind his left front shoulder.

Once it's cut away, the pulpy mass of white and red will be handed off to registered veterinary tech Robyn Underhill to be minced up and combined with a series of enzymes to break down the fat and isolate the regenerative stem cells. The stems cells are then activated using a specialized LED light and combined with platelet cells.

Those cells will then be injected back into Basil about four hours after his surgery, and used to treat the dog's inflammatory bowel disease -- which has started to manifest itself into pancreatitis. Underhill has drawn a larger amount of blood than usual in order to collect as much platelet-rich plasma as possible, which will them be processed and shipped to a facility in Kentucky to be cryogenically stored for later treatments.

Basil's second treatment will be in two weeks, with a third treatment two weeks after that.

The platelet cells have already gone through a process of their own, having been drawn from Basil's blood and centrifuged in order to separate the plasma, then spun again to separate out the platelets.

The platelet-rich plasma, says Gray, "is a scaffold for the stem cells to do their thing."

The dog is Gray's fifth 'patient' to undergo stem cell therapy; her sixth patient, a standard poodle named Sally that has a genetic skin disease, is sitting in the waiting room at the Blue Mountain Veterinary Clinic, ready to be prepped for her own surgery. Another animal will also be assessed today to determine if they're a good candidate.

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