Stem cells are cells that can be safely harvested from a variety of adult animal tissues. Once harvested, the stem cells can be injected and induced to grow into a large number of different cell types.
Stem cell therapy offers the possibility of using these stem cells to grow into replacements for injured or diseased tissues such as bone, cartilage, muscle, nerves, and so on. These would be real tissue replacements for damaged tissues, rather than artificial replacement implants.
Currently this new veterinary stem cell technology is just starting, with some success, to be used to treat bone, joint, and ligament problems in dogs.
The technology involves the use of adult stem cells, which can be easily obtained, without any harm to the host animal from which they are taken. A small amount of adipose (fat) tissue is surgically removed from a host animal and a centrifuge is used to separate the stem cells from the fat tissue.
The stem cells collected are then injected directly into the injured joint, ligament, or bone where they quickly begin to grow, replacing the damaged tissue with new, healthy tissue.
While still new, stem cell therapy has shown good results with dogs and horses that have been treated with these cells to repair joints, bones, or ligaments that have been damaged by injury or disease.
Stem cell therapy holds the promise of being a viable option for many conditions where the more invasive veterinary orthopedic surgery is the only option today.