We’ve all heard about stem cell research in the news, but did you know that the stem cell therapy can be used in our animal friends? Dr. Adam Parson has used this technology in our clinic on a chocolate Labrador to help with the pain and discomfort of arthritis. While this is not an inexpensive endeavor, the owner was wanting to do all she could, and reported that her dog was jogging around the back yard shortly after the procedure!
What is stem cell therapy?
Stem cells are the body’s repair cells. They have the ability to divide and differentiate into many different types of cells based on where they are needed throughout the body. Stem cells can divide and turn into tissues such as skin, fat, muscle, bone, cartilage, and nerve to name a few. They even possess the ability to replicate into organs such as the heart, liver, intestines, pancreas, etc.
Why do we take the cells from adipose (fat) tissue?
Adult stem cells are highly concentrated in the fat tissue. There are 50 to 1,000 times more stem cells in the fat than the bone marrow. At this concentration, it is no longer necessary to culture the stem cells to acquire the necessary cell numbers to make a healing impact. The procedure to extract fat from the patient is much quicker and less invasive than a spay. The stem cells are contained within a pool of cells in the fat termed the Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF). The SVF may impart anti-inflammatory effects, add bioactive peptides, and contribute to reformation and architectural organization. These are benefits lost once stem cells are cultured.
What can we do with the stem cells?
Adult stem cells are capable of dividing into many different cell types. With this capability, we can use them as a treatment for joint injuries, ligament and tendon damage, and fractured bones. Research and clinical trials currently support the use of stem cells in these conditions. Ongoing research is targeting other areas of the body for treatment and the preliminary results are very encouraging.
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