Over the past decade, stem cell use in the field of veterinary medicine has continued to evolve rapidly both experimentally and clinically. Stem cells derived from adipose and blood are most commonly used in clinical veterinary medicine in therapeutic applications for the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries in horses and dogs. The hope with using stem cell therapies is that patients will forego harsh drug treatments or invasive surgeries and instead rely on the healing potential of the body’s’ own cells. Recent research backs up the benefits of stem-cell treatments in some applications to combat the symptoms and reverse the damaging effects of autoimmune and degenerative diseases. (1, 2), The recent growth of university veterinary regenerative medicine departments, independently or through spin-off companies, and the plethora of clinical trials with human stem cells indicate that the industry is just barely scratching the surface of what is possible to accomplish with stem cell therapies.
The expansion of the many regenerative medicine facilities and the emergence of cell therapy, supports the notion that stem cells will have an impact on the future of medicine. The FDA is also becoming involved in the oversight of veterinarian use of stem cells, as evident with the creation of the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and its release of Guidance 218. (3)
VetCell Therapeutics, and our parent company PrimeGen Biotech, can excitedly say the fruits of the numerous years of research have resulted in the production and development of cell therapy products for the veterinary industry. VCT’s goal is to make a difference in the lives of pets suffering from various ailments, starting with osteoarthritis. The initial focus of our therapies will be on dogs and we began commercial production of these therapies in April of this year. In the two months of operation since announcing the therapies, we have experienced general interest from pet owners and veterinarians alike. The trend we noticed is while there is interest in stem cell use, there is also a fair amount of caution from our visitors. As a result, VCT aims to spread awareness of the safety and efficacy of stem cell therapies, in addition to supporting evidence based medicine.
Our initial product offering consists of two cell therapies, an autologous SVF stem cell therapy derived from a dog’s own fat tissue called ReGen OA, and a platelet rich plasma derived from the patient pet’s blood called EvoluGen OA, each offering unique therapeutic value for treating OA.
OA a painful disease, especially for dogs, that causes the smooth cartilage and bone tissues in joints to degenerate. Over time, the disease progresses causing a lot of pain and discomfort, which limits a pet’s activity and ability to enjoy doing the things they love most, like running and playing. Even a short walk could leave them in severe discomfort for days after. Clinical results of human trials have supported the use of stem cells for OA (4). Similarly, autologous stem cell applications have also benefitted dogs (5).
What is EvoluGen OA?
For platelet rich plasma treatments like our EvoluGen OA, a veterinarian collects tubes of blood from the pet patient and sends them to VetCell Therapeutics’ processing facility, where scientists separate the components of the blood. The process is customizable which allows the scientists to specifically prepare the therapy with a specific concentration of platelets tailored for the patient. The platelets within the plasma are rich in growth factors which have been shown to trigger a healing response within the body. The idea is that when a concentrated amount of PRP is injected into an osteoarthritic joint, the healing response initiated by the platelets reduces swelling and pain.
What is ReGen OA?
Stem Cell therapy is a unique type of treatment, with greater short- to long-term benefits. VCT offers a stromal vascular fraction (SVF) stem cell autologous therapy called ReGen OA that is made from fat tissue from the pet patient. A veterinarian extracts the required amount of fat tissue from the pet and sends to VetCell Therapeutics where we process the tissue and isolate the SVF stem cells. The stem cells are concentrated to the required dose, loaded into a syringe and sent back to the veterinarian for injection into the damaged joint. The stem cells when injected into the affected joint initiate a healing response that reduces pain and swelling. Over time the ability for stem cells to differentiate into other types of tissue cells is where the regenerative nature of the therapy comes into play. The clinical result for the stem cells injected into the joint is to leverage their anti-inflammatory properties for relief from the pain, and for those cells to become cartilage tissue cells and bone tissue cells, which contributes to restoring the pet’s mobility.
If you have a pet suffering from osteoarthritis, be sure to ask your vet about stem cell therapy. If your vet is not familiar with this type of therapy, kindly ask them to visit the VetCell Therapeutics website or to give us a call. Currently, VetCell Therapeutics only offers cell therapies for osteoarthritis, and we have been researching the potential of stem cells found in other tissues for treating more complex diseases for more than 10 years. In the coming years, we believe that stem cell therapies will be proven effective at treating a large variety of diseases suffered by our pets from heart disease to renal failure, offering them a safer alternative to costly surgeries and harsh drug treatments.
- Black, L. L. et al. Vet. Ther. 8, 272–284 (2007).
- Fortier, A. et al. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2011; 2(1): 9.
- Jo, C. et al. Stem Cells. 2014 May;32(5):1254-66
- Guercio, A. Cell Biol Int. 2012 Feb;36(2):189-94