Stem cells found in tissue including fat can help cure osteoarthritis, hip dysphasia or tendon and cartilage injuries in animals. While the newest technology is not approved for humans it could prove to be revolutionary in horses, dogs and cats.
“I’m 100 percent confident this is beneficial to horses,” said veterinarian Dr. Keith Brown.
Brown performed the procedure at the Brown Equine Hospital in Somerset on Cadence, a 10-year-old show horse.
Cadence injured his left hind fetlock joint about a year ago after stepping on farm equipment buried in the snow. After surgeries and other procedures Cadence still has not been able to run the same, said owner Bayleigh McMenamin.
“This was our last option for him to return to where he could be as comfortable as possible and to where I could continue to ride him,” the 18-year-old from Wexford said.
McMenamin said that she was amazed watching the surgery.
“I wasn’t concerned about the procedure at all,” she said. “I just want him to be at a level where he is more comfortable.”
Brown has performed the procedure three times.
The procedure begins by collecting the fat. Using a stem cell kit the tissue goes through a process that separates and isolates stem cells. After about 3 hours the stem cells are then injected into the affected area.
“This is fascinating and exciting for the veterinary industry,” he said. “It’s the first procedure where the tissue can be collected and performed in the same day.”
Brown said that in the past steroids have been used as a therapeutic treatment, however that does not last.
“That’s only a Band-Aid,” he said.
Steroid injection can wear off in about three months and cost about $260 each time.
The animal stem cell kit costs about $1,800, but the procedure is only needed once.
MediVet-America pioneered the advanced technology. The technology was first developed in 2002.
“This is a third generation type of technology,” said Rebecca Courtad, who works for MediVet-America with the Ohio Valley. “MediVet provides the veterinarian with an in-house kit so the procedure can be done in the clinic and the animal can go home the same day.”
Earlier techniques required tissue samples to be sent to a West Coast laboratory.
“We have really seen tremendous results,” Courtad said.
Cadence could be ready for performance level in about one to two month.
Brown said he is confident the procedure is effective.
“I could see how this could be used in humans as well,” he said.
He cited an example of people who have tennis elbow and how they could benefit from the joint injury.
“If this succeeds in the animal world it will definitely help in the human world,” he said.
Dr. Mike Hutchinson, a veterinarian in Pittsburgh, has been so impressed by the results of the therapy that he has become a spokesman for MediVet-America.
“I believe MediVet-America’s new application signifies the biggest breakthrough in veterinary medicine I have seen since entering the field 25 years ago,” Hutchinson said in a press release.
More than 2,000 stem cell kits have been supplied to veterinarians across the U.S.