Animals get stem cell therapy – Local clinic first in state to use in-house procedure

The Topeka Capital-Journal
By Jan Biles
Created November 11, 2010 at 10:38pm; Updated November 11, 2010 at 11:11pm


From left, veterinarians Travis Gratton, Larry Snyder and Richard Ashe remove fatty tissue from Sherman, an 11-year-old pit bull mix, and place in it a container being held by Michaela Hutchinson at University Bird and Small Animal Clinic, 2619 S.W. 17th. The tissue was removed so stem cells could be extracted to help repair the dog’s torn ACLs and arthritic hip.

Sherman, an 11-year-old pit bull mix with two torn ACLs and an arthritic hip, lay Thursday morning on the operating room table at University Bird and Small Animal Clinic at S.W. 17th and Randolph as veterinarians Richard Ashe, Travis Gratton and Larry Snyder removed clumps of fatty tissue from his upper back.

The fatty tissue contained adult stem cells that would be harvested, activated using MediVet-America’s new Adipose Stem Cell Procedure Kit and then injected back into the damaged area to help accelerate healing in Sherman’s damaged knee ligaments and hip.

“This treatment has worked well (at other clinics),” said Bruce Zimmerman, Sherman’s owner. “We’re hoping it will give him better quality of life.”

University Bird and Small Animal Clinic is the first veterinary clinic in Kansas to perform in-house animal stem cell regenerative therapy, which is used now to treat osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, ligament and cartilage injuries, and other degenerative diseases.

“Regenerative therapy hopefully will open a new treatment venue,” Snyder said. “It’s only licensed for joints and arthritis now. In the future, it could be used for liver, kidney, and heart disease and with stroke victims.”

Veterinarian Mike Hutchinson, a leading practitioner in stem cell therapy from Pittsburgh and a spokesman for MediVet-America, was at the clinic to guide its staff through the stem cell activation process using the drug-free kit, which uses LED technology to activate dormant stem cells.

Mike Hutchinson, a leading practitioner in stem cell therapy from Pittsburgh, shows employees at the veterinary clinic how to prepare the fat so stem cells can be extracted and processed using MediVet-America’s new Adipose Stem Cell Procedure Kit.

Hutchinson said he has used the kit to treat more than 100 dogs and cats. Most animals in severe pain before treatment were able to walk, run and jump again within two to three weeks. Risk factors are minimal and include possible joint infection and complications of anesthesia.

“I believe MediVet-America’s new application signifies the biggest breakthrough in veterinary medicine I have seen since entering the field 24 years ago,” he said.

Previously, Hutchinson said, fatty tissues had to be shipped to a laboratory in California for stem cell extraction and would take days to return to the veterinary clinic. The kit allows veterinarians to activate and inject the stem cells within hours of fat collection.

“It will take four to five hours when we get it down, so it will be a one-day surgery,” Snyder said.

The process also delivers a higher stem cell count than earlier procedures. Leftover stem cells can be frozen and used for future injections if needed.

“A cup of fat has 1 to 2 billion stem cells,” Hutchinson said.

In addition to generating new revenue for veterinary clinics, the process will save money for consumers. Hutchinson said the old procedure involving shipment of samples to an outside laboratory costs about $3,000, while using the in-house kit would lower the fee to about $1,800. Plus, pet owners will save the money they are spending on pain medications for their pets.

Snyder said University Bird and Small Animal Clinic decided to look into in-house stem cell regenerative therapy after client Carrie Hoffman read about the procedure being used on race horses and wondered if it could help her 7-year-old Labrador, Gunner, who has hip dysplasia and damaged knee joints.

Gunner, a registered therapy dog who has visited nursing home residents in the past, joined Sherman in being the first animals in Kansas to get the in-house procedure Thursday.

“He can’t take pain medications, and we were hoping for something to come along,” Hoffman said. “It’s very exciting for us.”

Jan Biles can be reached at (785) 295-1292 or jan.biles@cjonline.com