• November 13, 2017
  • By BJ Andrews


From the monthly column ON THE LINE" by Barbara “BJ” Andrews


A recent news feed stated “Veterinarians at 23 clinics are participating in a clinical trial of a stem cell therapy for canine arthritis.”  They harvest the stem cells from newborn canine umbilical cords.” It is then injected into arthritic canine joints and “early study results are promising” says veterinarian Kathy Petrucci, founder and CEO of Animal Cell Therapies, which is sponsoring the studies.


True, medical doctors use human stem cells to help the healing process of injured or degenerated joints.  Stem cells built your brain and our largest organ, the skin. In the laboratory they’ve shown that stem cells can build muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bone.


But before we go too far, let me set the stage.  Hip dysplasia has been the bane of dog breeders since first defined by Jerry Schnelle, DVM {1} in 1937.  Dr. Bardens claimed credit for early diagnosis with his fulcrum x-ray {2} which many breeders and vets said probably harmed more puppies than it accurately identified as likely to develop HD.


Why was that?  Because breeders wanted to believe that they would prevent hip dysplasia even though there was no statistical evidence that the new x-ray could do anything more than damage barely forming hip socket and femoral bone.  Okay, so let’s realize there is a huge difference between “therapy” and “cure”.  The term "cure" means that, after medical treatment, the patient no longer has that particular condition.  With other disease problems, like hepatitis B, there is no cure. The person will always have the condition.  So let’s read the claim again, with hope but better eyes.


It would be wonderful if stem cell treatment could cure your dog.  Perhaps it can but my bet is that it depends on the problem and note that is only claims to be therapy, not treatment.


As mammals age, cells go through a process of degeneration and regeneration until we finally reach a stage wherein they lose their oomph, become worn out.  When your car engine groans, you get a new one.  With your body it’s not so easy.


Speaking of which. Stem cell therapy can cost as much as a new car … and it is not yet reliably successful.  So please understand that we’re talking about a therapy in pet animals that is only partially successful in humans.  Skin cells have been used to grow grafts since the late 80s but overall stem cell success is iffy in people so you can be sure it is not yet reliable in animals. states “Bone marrow or fat derived stem cells may improve comfort for a limited time by mediating inflammation. ... Canine hip dysplasia that results in chronic pain and interferes with an active lifestyle is best treated with surgery.” As one of the country’s leading authorities, they state “Bone marrow or fat derived stem cells may improve comfort for a limited time by mediating inflammation.”


That assessment is supported by the veterinary group which says in part “Bone marrow or fat derived stem cells may improve comfort for a limited time by mediating inflammation.”


Ref 1 “Dr. Gerry Schnelle, who in 1937 published the first paper on what we now call canine hip dysplasia.” Google “, Schnelle, hip dysplasia”


Ref 2 “Fulcrum Hip X-rays and Hip Joint Palpation Certification ... promoted by Dr. Bardens… ineffective and dangerous…” Google “, Bardens, fulcrum x-ray, dysplasia”




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