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Tag: arthritis

Will stem cells bring Bentley’s legs back?

Bentley, a 2-year-old Great Pyrenees with a torn ligament and an arthritic joint in his back leg, was reinjected with his own stem cells this week — a process veterinarians hope will have him running, or at least walking comfortably again, in a matter of weeks.

The procedure – performed on the 105-pound dog at the American Animal Hospital in Randolph, New Jersey — was described as the first one-day, animal stem cell transplant procedure in New Jersey history.

Vets hope the treatment will stimulate cell regeneration in Bentley, reduce inflammation and ease his pain.

“I just want to give Bentley some relief, just so I can walk him again. I’m not expecting him to be a marathon runner,” owner Erin McGuire, who drove her dog 80 miles from Brielle for the treatment, told the Newark Star-Ledger.

The procedure was overseen by Michael Hutchinson, a veterinarian from the Pittsburgh area who has performed similar ones on about 100 dogs, cats and even horses since 2008.

Although the procedure is approved only for animal ailments such as hip dysplasia, arthritis and ligament injuries, it is being looked at — and used in some other countries — to solve human health problems as well.

“The basic procedure involves taking fat from the dog, extracting stem cells and injecting those stem cells back into the dog,” said Brian T. Voynick, owner and director of the Randolph veterinary hospital.

Voynick was the first veterinarian in New Jersey to use stem cell treatment with animals three years ago — a prolonged, multi-day procedure at the time.

After he removed 60 grams of fat from the dog, he’d have to send it to California to be processed, and wait for the stem cells to be shipped back. Bentley’s treatment, in which the stem cells were separated from the fat on site, took less than four hours at Voynick’s hospital Wednesday.

Voynick and Hutchinson removed 16 grams of fat from under the dog’s left shoulder, mixed it with platelets extracted from the dog’s blood and enzymes, incubated the serum, spun it in a centrifuge and finally exposed it to wavelengths of LED lighting under a process patented by an Australian-based company called MediVet.

Bentley was given a good prognosis Wednesday, but only time will tell if the procedure was successful, the Star-Ledger reported.

Stem cell treatments helping dogs, and more

stem-cell4That glob to your left is a stem cell — the type that’s been used to treat more than 1,700 arthritic dogs in the U.S.

“Adult” stem cells and are found throughout the body — in dogs and humans — and can be harvested from fat tissue, expanded and then injected into the area of injury or disease.

Robert Harman, a veterinarian, stem cell specialist and biotechnology entrepreneur who is CEO for the California company Vet-Stem, discussed the treatment in a recent article for the San Diego News Network.

In the U.S., he says, more than 1,700 dogs and 3,600 horses have been treated for tendon, ligament and joint problems over the last six years with their own stem cells, harvested from fat.  Published results in dogs and horses indicate that more 70 percent of have significantly benefitted. Only a few veterinarians have been authorized to offer the service

The treatment has not been approved for use in the U.S. on humans yet, but at least one American has undergone it, through a company in Korea that harvested his fat tissue, isolated its stem cells, then injected them into him in  China. It’s the same company — one of two — that is offering dog cloning. The patient, John Cullison, a California artist, was visiting RNL Bio in Seoul the same time I was there to research my book on pet cloning.

RNL Bio posted this video of him discussing the treatment on YouTube:

(Photo courtesy of Vet-Stem Inc.)

Joint supplements often lacking, report says

Arthritis supplements for dogs, cats and horses sometimes skimp on the ingredients, an independent laboratory has found.

Four of the six joint supplements for animals tested by ConsumerLab.com lacked the amounts of glucosamine or chondroitin promised on their labels or had other flaws, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“There is and there always has been” a quality problem, although many companies do a good job, said Mark Blumenthal of the American Botanical Council, which tracks research on herbal products.

Even when these supplements contain what they claim, there is little evidence that they work, veterinary experts say.

“You can’t ask a dog or a cat to give you a subjective impression of how they’re feeling after taking the product for several days. They can’t say, ‘On a scale of 1 to 5, I feel better or worse,’” Blumenthal said.

Up to one-third of dogs and cats in the U.S. are given supplements, a government report estimates. Sales of pet supplements have roughly doubled since 2003, to nearly $1 billion a year in the United States.

Few high-quality studies have tested the effectiveness of animal supplements. The Food and Drug Administration says these products are not bound by quality rules for human ones.

“Many people presume that supplements are safer than drugs, but the reality is that there is very limited safety data on dietary supplements for horses, dogs, and cats,” the panel concluded.To see the National Academy of Sciences report on supplements for animals, click here.

How Jane lost her Angel

When Jane Guardascione, a 94-year-old Queens grandmother, lost her pet collie and constant companion, Angel, her granddaughter got on the phone, placing several calls to Animal Control and Care to see if the dog turned up in the city’s shelter system.

Angel wasn’t there, the agency repeatedly told her Friday.

On Saturday, though, she was told the 13-year-old dog had been euthanized at Animal Control and Care’s Manhattan shelter — the same day she arrived.

Shelter officials said Angel had collapsed at the shelter, had no identification and fit no description of any dogs reported lost. Because of her age and deteriorating condition, a veterinarian at the facility decided to euthanize Angel in an effort to prevent any additional suffering, the New York Daily News reports.

In a statement, the agency expressed ”deepest sympathies” to the family. “It is our goal to avoid euthanasia unless we deem it absolutely necessary,” the statement read.

Family members say, while Angel suffered from arthritis, she was able to get around just fine —  and was probably frozen with fear in the shelter. Jane’s daughter, Carole Miller, a collie breeder, gave her mother the dog when Angel was just over a year old. The dog was her constant companion, she said.

AC&C, which operates city shelters under a contract with the Health Department, is required to hold lost and stray animals for at least 72 hours before putting them up for adoption or euthanizing them. Exceptions are made if an animal is critically injured or gravely ill.

Outraged animal rescue groups said such mistakes are not unusual at AC&C and charged the nonprofit organization is plagued by mismanagement. In January, the Daily News reported that one rescue group sued the city because it was breaking its own law by not providing animal shelters in all five boroughs. The suit charged that facilities are overcrowded and disease-ridden and that animals are being euthanized in “unconscionable numbers” because there is no space.

Despite 3 deaths, Iditarod likely to continue

“Two dogs died in the name of sport this week, and this time it wasn’t Michael Vick’s fault.”

So begins an Associated Press commentary by national sports columnist Tim Dahlberg that recounts the final hours of Dizzy and Grasshopper, two members of musher Lou Packer’s team. The two were among three dogs that died in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

“Listen to race supporters and they’ll tell you that, unlike Vick’s dogs, the 5-year-old huskies died doing what they loved. Read the official Iditarod Web site and you’ll find out that sled dogs are pampered and loved by their masters…”

On the other hand, Dahlberg wrote, “They don’t have a problem with chaining up big packs of dogs and running them to within an inch of their life for sport. They accept the fact that the Iditarod is a part of the state’s heritage, and its biggest sporting event. A lot of us in the Lower 48, though, just don’t get it.”

He goes on to ask the question on the minds of many animal right activists: “How many dog deaths are reasonable? How many more must die before the fun is finally sucked out of the sport?”

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