Regenerative Medicine for Pets
What does it all mean?
Animal Hospital of Rowlett & Diagnostic Center
Pet owners are hearing and seeing more and more information about Regenerative Medicine for pets (dogs, cats and horses). This area can be confusing for pet owners AND their Veterinarians! Regenerative medicine is a term that means: "the chosen technique used in the patient is providing a form of therapy to help the body HEAL itself, in a safe and non-toxic manner. Either cells of the patient or other cellular technology are infused/injected. These therapies will elicit the body to stimulate many types of growth factors that allow regeneration of tissues."
What science does tell us is that our bodies have an abundance of existing "repair" cells (stem cells) already present at any time. The problem is: as we have aged (into our first 6 months of life), these cells start to lose their ability to grow new tissues and certainly repair damaged tissues, not because the cells will not function, but because the "instruction manual" on healing has closed (think closed book vs. open book). Once the "closing instruction manual" has happened, then we see the body's responses as scaring (fibrosis) or incomplete healing processes. This "open" instruction manual is what is called "Open configuration of Collagen within the Extracellular Matrix."
Currently, Regenerative medicine can be focused in one of TWO areas:
Giving the body more Stem Cells and growth factors, expecting they will "know what to do" in the body and affect changes to damaged tissues and organs.
Provide the "Open Instruction Manual" to the bodies' EXISTING and waiting Stem cells (pluripotent cells and fetal mesenchymal cells) and activate them to regenerate tissues.
Do we need MORE stem cells OR do we need to TELL the EXISTING stem cells how to start healing tissues? (We believe the latter is the most medically sound choice)
As with all medical procedures, proper patient selection and evaluation prior to Regenerative Medicine procedures is extremely important. The doctor needs to set appropriate patient and pet parent expectations from this therapy option. This usually includes radiographs of affected sites, blood tests and urine tests for internal health – especially in older patients we are treating, that often will have other pre-existing conditions.
The most accessible (and we believe a more durable response) form of Regenerative Medicine is "OsteoBioScaff™." From the ease of access, ease of use for the Veterinarian and ease of use on the pet! Please read more to become an informed pet owner.
- The most commonly marketed procedures involve "Stem Cells." Stem cells have to be removed from the patient's fat or bone marrow by some means (usually surgically removed) and processed. The processing is an area where the technology used by the veterinary hospital varies greatly from one Stem Cell service provider to the next. Once the stem cells are ready, these are injected back into the patient. So, these procedures require at least 1 or 2 general anesthesia procedures. These Stem Cell treatments tend to be expensive and we see costs from $2500 - $3500 and up depending on number of areas being treated.
Companies such as VetStem, StemLogix and Medi-Vet provide these services through veterinary hospitals for stem cell therapy procedures. Significant specialized equipment investments for the hospital are tied with some of these providers.
- "PRP" or platelet rich plasma is another form of therapy that concentrates the patients' blood and then re-injects the "plasma" into the affected joint , tendon or area being treated. This technique concentrates cells (platelets) and growth factor proteins in the body that help manage inflammation and tissue degeneration. There "MIGHT" be some stem cells in the concentrate, but there is no way to quantify this fact.
- "IRAP" or Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein. This is a procedure where blood is drawn from patient, incubated for 24 hrs. then centrifuged. The product is injected into the affected area every 7-10 days for at least 3 treatments. This is focused on inhibiting a particular inflammatory mediator, Interleukin-1. This is helpful but usually NOT a stand-alone procedure to manage osteoarthritis disease. A special high speed centrifuge and a medical grade freezer are needed on site to manage these products.
- OsteoBioScaff™, is a structurally unique medical device that is composed of a proprietary, non-immunogenic copolymer. OsteoBioScaff™ forms a scaffold for cell proliferation, differentiation and integration. (This means: we are opening up the book on HOW the EXISTING stem cells can be turned on and activated to help regenerate tissues).
OsteoBioScaff™ is implanted (injected) into the site and around areas of soft/hard tissue damage. This product is warmed and turns into a hydrogel for application. Only one heavy sedation or light general anesthesia step is required! NO surgical harvesting is EVER required with this Regenerative medical option.
OsteoBioScaff™ is the INSTRUCTION MANUAL for healing/regeneration. The response with this approach is usually more durable for the patients, compared to Stem Cell therapies. Our hospital has been using this approach for over 2 years, and we have seen SEVERE cases stabilized for up to 2 years after ONE therapy procedure.
The ease of use and SAFETY of OsteoBioScaff™ means that patients can REPEATEDLY treated over time as the response to therapy may wane.
OsteoBioScaff™ is supplied by BioPharma Products, LLC and exclusively distributed by VetSource into the veterinary industry. Learn more at www.osteobioscaff.com
One KEY FACT about Regenerative Medicine: NONE of these therapies will "fix" the actual UNDERLYING cause of genetic or traumatic damage that occurred in a joint (i.e., genetic hip dysplasia). We are looking to Regenerative Medicine to help manage the worn out areas around and on the surfaces of these joints that cause PAIN and DISCOMFORT and decreased MOBILITY. The actual "biomechanics" of an abnormal joint will still be there. This is why we will see patients needing a repeat therapy in months or years, depending upon the type of Regenerative Medicine procedure used for the pets' condition.
We hope this PRIMER course on Regenerative Medicine has helped you sift through the decision process. The choices available are ever increasing in this area of medicine. This frontier is exciting and confusing at the same time, for pet owners AND veterinarians. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian or find a veterinarian whom has studied and utilized Regenerative medicine options in their practice. OsteoBioScaff™ is one of the newly available options to veterinarians and their pet patients, but NOT a NEW (untested) therapy in the Regenerative Medical world!