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South Charlotte veterinarian uses stem cell therapy to cure hip dysplasia

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When Mikey, a full-blooded German Shepard was rescued from a life of near complete confinement his time in a crate had caused enough damage to his hips that his ability to walk was severely affected. His rescuers, Stephen and Rosa turned to stem cell therapy as a solution.

“Regenerative medicine is really the wave of the futures for vets,” said Herman, the vet who operated on Mikey and who claims to be the first Charlotte veterinarian to use what’s known in the scientific community as mesenchymal cells. “It’s less invasive and will be a huge part of treating patients.” These are not to be confused with embryonic stem cells, as they are found in adult animals in the muscle, bone and most abundantly in the fat tissues.

The type of therapy used to treat Mikey is becoming more widely known, as well as more affordable. Generally the treatment costs around $2,200.00 which is comparable in some cases to traditional methods for treating diseases like pill regiments or injections. Muscular dystrophy, the effects of aging, osteo-arthritis, or other injuries are among the most common reasons that dog owners seek out stem-cell therapy.

The process is less complicated than one would think, considering all the hype around the “ethics” of stem-cell research. Somatic (adult ‘stem cells’ sometimes called MPC’s or muscle precursor cells) are extracted using liposuction techniques. The fatty tissue, which can hold up to 1000 times the amount of undifferentiated cells as compared to bone marrow or muscle, is generally taken from between a dog’s shoulder blades.

The process used to ‘awaken’ the properties of the stem-cells usually involves an LED light. This photo-activation technique induces certain enzymes to begin division as soon as they are re-injected into the animal’s body. The body will naturally activate these types of cells, which is the reason that many animals start to slow down as they age. So it looks like all of the hullabaloo about stem-cell research was really just about relocating a naturally occurring process.

That being said, stem-cell therapy for animals is relatively new. The first research was performed in 1990. Horse treatment has been taking place since 2003. Various companies have emerged in the industry.

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