Stem Cells Get to the Root of the Problem

By Susan Aiello • Published: June 1st, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

Stem cell therapy is often in the news in human medicine, and veterinarians are pioneering its use in companion animals, too.

Stem cells are juvenile cells that have the potential to grow into many different types. Vets can harvest adult stem cells, which are more plentiful than the cells found in embryos, and use them to treat chronic pain, inflammation and injury.

Bone marrow or fat is shipped to a lab where the stem cells are extracted and then returned for injection, either into the blood or directly at the site of the injury, where they help repair the damage.

Stem cell therapy has been used to treat injuries and arthritis in dogs and horses, and its use in kidney failure in cats is being investigated. Like any therapy, there is the potential for unwanted side effects, but it could provide hope for some animals.