The Edmond Sun

Features

July 30, 2012

Stem cell therapies helping dogs recover from injuries

OKLA. CITY — Each time a significant breakthrough occurs in the field of human or veterinary medicine it is followed by great excitement in both endeavors. But no prior surge has produced the impact and optimism like that created with the moderately recent introduction to the world of stem cell research and therapy. And few new medical theories have been as controversial from the human standpoint.

The term “stem cell” probably means very little to the average layman, so let me start with a medical dictionary definition: “Stem cells are one of a human or animal body’s master cells, with the ability to grow into any one of the body’s more than 200 cell types. They retain the ability to divide throughout life and give rise to cells that can become highly specialized and take the place of cells that die or are lost. Unlike mature cells, stem cells can both renew themselves as well as create new cells of whatever tissue they originally belong or to other tissue alike.”

Their use in veterinary medicine the past four or five years has been exciting and dynamic. In the U.S., at least, veterinary medical advancement in this area has out-distanced that of the human field simply because veterinary surgeons and research workers are spared the ethical issues that hamstring their counterparts in human science. In human medicine embryonic stem cells are mainly sourced from the placenta and umbilical cord after birth — in veterinary medicine they are harvested from the excess fatty tissue of the animal to be treated.           

With the limitless possibilities for future multiple uses veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada have principally utilized this renewable natural source for the successful treatment of osteoporosis and orthopedic soft tissue injuries. In the U.S. alone it is estimated that more than eight million dogs suffer from some form of degenerative osteoarthritis. According to veterinarian Dr. Robert Harman, “stem cell therapy rejuvenates joints, reduces pain and increases flexibility which enables the animal to do things it used to do. The treatment can change a dog’s lifestyle.”

Dr. Harman is the CEO and co-founder of Vet-Stem Inc., a laboratory that processes fatty tissue to separate stem cells for clinical introduction. Today, more than 2,400 veterinarians in the U.S. and Canada are certified to perform stem cell therapy. 

This cutting-edge procedure is accomplished by first surgically removing about two tablespoons of the canine patient’s body fat, which is very rich in stem cells. This is sent to Vet-Stem where technicians utilize special centrifuges to extract the stem cells from the fatty tissue. Within 48 hours the cell concentrate is placed in ready-to-use syringes and shipped back to the veterinary surgeon who can then inject the cell-laden solution into the dog’s injured area. There is little or no danger of rejection because these are the animal’s own cells. To date, 5,000 to 6,000 such procedures have been performed in the U.S. alone, and 80 percent have resulted in a favorable outcome. The cost, which includes anesthetic, harvesting fatty tissue, laboratory separation and preparation, shipping, injection, follow-up examinations and one year cell storage usually runs from $2,000 to $3,000.

Yep, that’s a lot of money for the average family, but my initial thought here was that any dog that is lucky enough to belong to an owner willing to spend that type of money to make their pet’s life more tolerable is truly “a winner in life’s lottery.”      

Most professionals who work in this new and exciting field feel that the possibilities are unlimited and that stem cells in general will rewrite the medical and veterinary textbooks in the next 10 to 20 years. Several pet insurance companies cover the procedure described above if the condition is not pre-existing or related to a congenital disorder.

DR. WILLIAM K. FAUKS is a retired Oklahoma City veterinarian. If you have any questions regarding the health of your pet, please write to “Ask a Vet,” at 3142 Venice Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73112, or email bfauks1@aol.com.

1
Text Only
Features
  • NAMI classes begin in September

    NAMI Edmond North-OKC, the local organization of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will offer its Family-to-Family Education Program beginning Sept. 2. It will contine Sept. 4 and 8-9. Classes will be at Crossings Community Church, Quail Springs United Methodist Church, Francis Tuttle Technology Center (Portland campus), Tinker AFB Chapel and the Thunderbird Club House in Norman.
    NAMI Family-to-Family is a free 12-session education program for family caregivers of adults living with mental illness. The sessions are offered once a week for a few hours each.

    July 30, 2014

  • clinic 1.jpg Edmond church to host free eye clinic

    An Edmond church and Feed the Children are partnering to provide a free eye clinic.
    Individuals will be able to receive a free vision test and free prescription eye glasses from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Waterloo Road Baptist Church, 3100 E. Waterloo Road. All ages are welcome and registration is not required.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • UCO forensic volunteer wants to aid more agencies

    A four-person group of forensic investigators who volunteer their time to help smaller Oklahoma police departments isn’t enough to meet demand, a member said.
    Kama King, who recently completed her graduate research and will be a member of the faculty at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Forensic Science Institute, said outside of full-time jobs, members of the group volunteer to assist these agencies.
    As her career progresses, King hopes to help establish a permanently funded organization available to any agency in the state to assist in remains recovery as well as related training.

    July 29, 2014

  • jc_ITS map.jpg City to improve traffic flow

    The Edmond City Council this week approved a services agreement with Electronic Technology, Inc. For the  installation of Intelligent Transportation Systems’ video wall system at a cost of $314,620. The vote was 3-0.
    ITS is a fiber optic, wireless or hybrid communication system of monitoring road events and equipment in the field, data archiving and predicting traffic volume, said Kent Kacir, an engineer with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • jc_Earp Marlin 2 - photo credit Noel Winters.jpg Shootout of a sale

    An original article of the Wild West will be made available at auction Thursday. The rifle of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp will be part of the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal’s Summer Quarterly Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.
    Earp was an Arizona deputy sheriff and deputy town marshal in Tombstone, Ariz. He is legendary for playing a key role in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. He died in 1929 at age 80.
    Wyatt Earp collector Barry Tapp of Edmond will be selling his 1895 Wyatt Earp Marlin rifle at the auction. The rifle has an estimated value between $50,000 and $75,000. It includes authentication documentation from Tombstone Heritage Museum, according to the auction house

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • 11.6.12 Mother and Cub (2).jpg UCO forensic researcher answers key question

    After working a few human recovery cases on a volunteer basis with a variety of police departments, a question kept bugging Kama King.
    “You spend the whole day,” the UCO W. Roger Webb Forensic Science Institute student said, “sometimes days, searching for someone and only find a skull or a few bones and it just ate at me. Are we not finding this or is it not there to be found?”

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Karan & Rwanda.jpg Peace through Business empowering women entrepreneurs

    Peace Through Business is part of the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW) based in Oklahoma City. It is a program that connects small business entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda with business owners in Oklahoma. One such entrepreneur found out about the program from a friend, applied, and was accepted to take part in this year’s session.
    Upon earning a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Universite de Sciences et Technique de Lille in Belgium, Lyliose Nduhungirehe began her career working for a construction company in Brussels, but she quickly switched paths to Information Technology.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • How to care for your pet without breaking the bank

    It’s a shame furry friends can’t pay for themselves. Though wagging tails after a long day at work may make pet ownership seem worthwhile, a happy pup won’t stop those bills from rolling in at the end of the month. Thankfully, quick and easy ways exist for dog owners to cut down on costs.

    July 28, 2014

  • MS_new pastor_Page_1.tiff Local church welcomes new pastor

    For one of Edmond’s newest pastors, faith and family intersect on a personal level.
    Sam Powers, pastor at Edmond 1st United Methodist Church, 305 E. Hurd St., and his family arrived in mid-May and his first Sunday in the pulpit was the second one in June. He and his wife Sheryl Heaton Powers, have two children — Kyla will be an eighth-grader at Cheyenne Middle School and David will be a fifth-grader at John Ross Elementary.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • pm_Ramona Paul.jpg Keith, 5 others to receive service awards

    The 2014 Door-Opener Awards Gala dinner and silent auction Sept. 4, benefitting ASTEC Charter Schools, will recognize five outstanding Oklahomans and one Kansan for lifetime contributions made toward helping others in society maximize potential and achieve dreams.
    Those selected to receive a Door-Opener Award at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel event include Dr. Harvey Dean, Pittsburg, Kan.; Toby Keith and Tricia Covel, Norman; Former Gov. George P. Nigh, Edmond; the late Dr. Ramona Paul, Edmond; and Natalie Shirley, Oklahoma City.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos