Image11Stem Cell Therapy significantly help pets with osteoarthritis and some liver and joint problems! This therapy uses your pet’s own, adult stem cells from it’s own fat and there is no chance of rejection as there is with organ replacement. Vet Stem is the only veterinary stem cell therapy company that is backed by peer reviewed, approved, non biased studies for therapeutic use in animals. Vet Stem is also has banking service, whereby cells can be harvested during routine procedures, on younger animals, before the need arises and avoids additional anesthetic procedures when the pet is older. Dr. MacPhail and Dr Ulbrich have both been certified with Vet Stem to perform these procedures since January of 2010.


DeLand veterinarian works to help ailing animals with stem cells

By SKYLER SWISHER, Staff Writer April 16, 2012 1:05 AM

Dr. Tom MacPhail holds a syringe of Lucy’s stem cells that are ready for injection at the DeLand Animal Hospital, in DeLand recently. (N-J | Peter Bauer)

Lucy, a 10-year-old pug being held by Dennis Stasinski, is injected with her own stem cells during treatment by Dr. Tom MacPhail at the DeLand Animal Hospital in DeLand recently. (N-J | Peter Bauer)

DELAND — Lucy the 10-year-old pug tried to lift her legs off the grass, but they just dragged behind her motionless.

Her tongue lolled out of her mouth, and her eyes beamed. But her tail didn’t wag.

Lucy is partly paralyzed, and her condition is worsening by the day. In the past, she would have faced euthanasia.

But even with her gloomy prognosis, her owner Dr. Thomas MacPhail hasn’t given up. He hopes stem-cell treatment, a procedure that uses an animal’s own cells to spark healing, will help repair nerves in Lucy’s back. If that happens, she could gain more control over her bowels and rear legs.

“It’s a shot in the dark, but it will give her a chance,” said MacPhail, who owns DeLand Animal Hospital.

MacPhail has treated about 20 dogs with stem cells at his clinic over the past two years. DeLand Animal Hospital is one of only a few clinics in the area that offer the treatment.

A banner on the building’s side advertises the procedure to motorists passing on U.S. 92.

Stem-cell treatment for humans has been a controversial topic, but for the past decade, veterinarians have been using it on animals. Vets extract an animal’s own adult stem cells and inject them. The type of stem cells used differs from the embryonic stem cells that spurred an ethics debate.

The procedure was first used to treat tendon and ligament injuries in horses. A few years ago, vets started using stem cells to treat arthritis in dogs and the occasional cat.

Lucy’s case is taking the procedure into less-tested waters.

She was born unable to walk because of a condition known as swimmer’s pup, which damaged her joints. The breeder turned Lucy over to MacPhail in hopes that he could save her. Two days after Lucy was signed over, she started walking. For the past two years, though, a spinal condition has left her struggling to walk.

Research conducted by veterinarians could eventually pave the way for similar types of stem-cell treatments to be used on humans, said Gregory L. Ferraro, director of the University of California, Davis’ Center for Equine Health.

At UC Davis, researchers in the veterinary and medical schools are working together to advance stem-cell therapy. One day, stem cells could be used to repair a severed Achilles tendon, slow kidney failure and alleviate spinal-cord issues similar to Lucy’s.

Research has demonstrated stem cells are effective in treating arthritis in animals, but the procedure is still new and unrefined, said Ferraro, who has worked in veterinarian science for 40 years.

“We need to do more work,” he said. “We don’t know what the perfect dose is and what the perfect re-treatment time is.”

One thing is certain. Stem-cell treatment is expensive.

MacPhail said the procedure costs about $2,000. Typically, it provides relief for six to 48 months, he said.

The treatment begins when vets remove stem-cell-rich fat from a dog’s abdomen. The fat is sent to a laboratory in California operated by San Diego-based Vet-Stem, which has treated more than 8,000 horses, dogs and cats since it was founded in 2002.

At the laboratory, stem cells are extracted from the fat. A stem-cell injection is sent back to the vet office, which is then administered in the animal’s arthritic joints.

The cells work by reducing inflammation and sparking the body’s healing process, MacPhail said.

Testimonials supplied by Vet-Stem tout the treatment as life saving.

Lizbeth Grall, 50, of Alpharetta, Ga., said she watched her “four-legged soul mate” Apollo’s degenerative arthritis cause him so much discomfort he couldn’t get up. She turned to stem cell therapy in hopes that it would extend the 3-year-old bullmastiff’s life span. She spent $3,500 on the initial treatment and $1,500 on follow-up IV treatments.

“It was like black and white,” Grall said. “He went from the intensive-care unit in the hospital to out on the ball field.”

MacPhail hopes he will soon be able to share a similar story about Lucy.