Stem Cells (幹細胞) are undifferentiated cells found in the body that used to be derived primarily from bone marrow (骨髓) which was quite a painful procedure. In the last decade, stem cells derivation have progressed to being collected from fat tissue – conveniently located under the skin of the animal. Although the collection of such stem cells still require a general anesthetic (全身麻醉) procedure, the pain associated with such a procedure is no longer as severe. Stem cells may be autologous (自身) or allogenic (異體) in origin. Autologous stem cells do not cause rejection as it derived from the patient itself. Allogenic stem cells are derived from young animals and very rarely cause rejection.
In recent years, the stem cell industry has progressed to the point where the initial collection of tissue for the culture of stem cells becomes no longer necessary – essentially avoiding one session of general anesthesia. This is very good news for the animal world – as there is increasing awareness to the the potentially far-reaching side effects of a session of general anesthesia.
What are the listed uses of Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy in the animal industry started primarily for salvaging the feet of million-dollar race horses. The use of this technology later trickled down to small animals, also targeting mainly orthopedic issues – namely arthritis (關節炎).
Stem cells are well known for its regenerative abilities – hence the interest and use in performance animals such as race horses. In recent years, the immuno-modulatory abilities are becoming obvious and therefore now being applied to immune-related disease such as chronic and refractory feline gingivostomatitis and canine inflammatory bowel disease. The use in chronic kidney disease for dogs and cats are currently under investigation.
The thinking behind using Stem Cell Therapy
Stem Cell therapy is not a drug.
The above statement alone – speaks volume. It’s not a drug! Yet it possesses anti-inflammatory (消炎), immunomodulation (調制免疫系統) and regenerative (再生) capabilities!
Before you dive into the decision to put your pet through this therapy, you need to understand the power – and the potential risk of using stem cell. Since stem cells can be regenerative, essentially growing new cells and therefore repairing/ replacing existing diseased cells or tissues – it can equally help with the propagation of diseased tissues.
It is for this reason that we advocate the use of this therapy and at the same time, strongly advise that you – as the owner of your pet – to be well-informed as to what you are choosing to do. Stem cells can be very powerful especially if you harness its powers properly. Since this therapy involves injection into the body – stem cells circulate throughout the body and attach itself onto diseased tissues to initiate repair and regeneration. Therefore whilst damaged tissues may be repaired, the therapy may inadvertently promote the propagation of malignant tissues that are present albeit in small numbers in the body.
For the management of arthritis
Stem cell with its potent anti-inflammatory and regenerative effects may almost be considered the “strongest” joint supplement! With the patient anesthetized (麻醉), a prepared volume of stem cell usually between 0.5ml to 1mls is injected into the relevant joints (關節) to begin the reparative process. Animals must be anethetized for this treatment as injection into a joint is uncomfortable and has to be performed with the patient being very still.
The key to success to this therapy is to strictly cage rest or confine the pet. We strongly advocate this as it impacts at least 50% of the rate of success. By resting, the stem cells are able to attach to damaged areas of the joint and begin repair, later regeneration. A pet that is allowed to keep walking, jumping, running will cause joint instability and cells are not given the time to repair.
Here we have an excerpt of our clinic’s success story. Our very own “Mimi” – an elderly and previously overweight Chihuahua became very lame and subsequently refused to walk. This did not help with the aim to lose weight. This video shows Mimi at 3.16kg (grossly overweight) and 1-month post therapy at 2.4kg (much improved). As a result of this therapy, Mimi has not had to receive further joint supplement therapy (eg. Cartrophen injection, Pentosan injection, glucosamine chondroitin supplement). She was strictly confined for 2 months with only 5mins to 10mins walks in a controlled manner.
This video was taken in November 2016.
The use of stem cells is seemingly endless.
Recent research from the School of Veterinary Medicine University of California, Davis shows great promise in the management of recurrent Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis.
Other therapies may also provide relief to this condition, including therapeutic laser, acupuncture, diet adjustment, steroid therapy and detectomy.
Other potential uses
The stem cell magic has been applied onto chronic disease such as chronic kidney disease, irritable bowel disease. Further research is actively underway. Additionally, acute diseases such as severe corneal ulceration, spinal diseases may be remedies by this therapy.
Stem cell therapy can be very powerful. It may advance the management strategy of many chronic and frustrating disease processes such as kidney failure, irritable bowel disease and stomatitis.
It is important to always be cognisant that prior to reaching the conclusion of using Stem cell therapy, one should be responsible in the day-to-day care of your pet. By providing your pet with regular fresh and moist foods that contains abundant fiber, anti-oxidants, proteins and carbohydrates – you may already avert severe arthritis, irritable bowel problems and stomatitis. By maintaining a trim body, you avoid severe arthritis, hormonal imbalance and skin problems too. By choosing where you source your pet from – by adoption or by purchase – you can greatly decrease the risk of poor breeding and therefore avoiding early onset arthritis, stomatitis, irritable bowel problems and many other diseases.
Stem Cell therapy is not a preventative medicine. It is a therapy that should be seriously considered when you:
- have been careful in managing the pet’s diet
- understands and rejects the side effects of some western medications
- understand and ready to commit to confining your pet for a period when being treated for arthritic or other neuro-orthopedic conditions
- and your vet are quite clear that the pet has no other malignant processes
Our clinic is a VetCell authorized veterinary clinic which provides allogenic stem cell products that are tailor-made for your pet. Feel free to contact us for a consultation to discuss about this therapy.