Bloomington Vet Joins Study For Stem Cell Therapy To Treat Dogs With Arthritis | WGLT

Bloomington Vet Joins Study For Stem Cell Therapy To Treat Dogs With Arthritis

Oct 23, 2019

The Eastland Companion Animal Hospital in Bloomington is asking dog owners if they want to participate in research on using stem cells to treat dogs with arthritis.

Local dogs would join a double-blind, placebo-controlled study to show the effectiveness of stem cells in treating large dogs (70 pounds or more) with arthritis in up to two joints of the knee, hip, elbow, or shoulder. The veterinary clinic has partnered with Animal Cell Therapies, who it's worked with before, to bring this study to Bloomington.

Dr. Kathy Petrucci, founder and CEO of Animal Cell Therapies, explained how dogs will receive the treatment.

“The dogs that will receive the stem cells will be sedated,” Petrucci said. “Depending on what joints are affected, they will receive up to two injections in the joint and they will also receive an IV dose of stem cells.”

The FDA oversees the cells that are received from donors for the study. Mothers donating these cells are screened for diseases, and cells are tested for any infections to ensure safety.

Stem cell therapy has been controversial, especially related to humans.

“I think a lot of the controversy comes from the misunderstanding of the cell types,” Petrucci said. “The research in stem cells first started centered around embryonic or fetal tissue use. It’s controversial to use embryos and fetal tissues for treatment for anything. The fact that we are using a disposable tissue as our cell sources makes it not controversial at all.”

Why Umbilical-Derived Cells

Petrucci explained why umbilical-derived cells are more effective in treating arthritis versus other sources.

“We looked at fat, bone marrow, embryonic cells,” Petrucci said. “The embryonic cells are a lot more unpredictable, and the bone marrow cells are more difficult to work with and less predictable. We didn’t think the fat cells are as potent as umbilical-derived cells. Umbilical-derived cells are a lot younger and they’re a little bit more predictable. They are more easy to collect. We obtain cells from donors when the tissue would be normally thrown away. There’s no surgery required, no extra biopsies to obtain fat, no bone marrow from research animals. It’s a good, ethical source of stem cells.” 

Umbilical-derived stem cells have proven successful in past studies on treatment for arthritis, according to Petrucci.

“We did a study at the University of Florida on elbows only and we had success with that study,” Petrucci said. “We had good success with dogs under 70 pounds and (less) success with dogs over 70 pounds, so we changed our dose, which is why we’re testing dogs 70 pounds and over in this study.” 

Criteria for eligibility includes dogs weighing 70 pounds or more, being one year of age or older, in general good health, no neurologic issues, arthritis in up to two joints of the knee, hip, elbow, or shoulder, and have all four functioning limbs.

Owners must bring their dogs back to the clinic after 30 days to check for progress and complete a questionnaire. About 50 to 100 dogs are expected to participate in the study.

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