Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

January 26, 2014

Stem-cell therapy restores faith for arthritic pets

ELLSWORTH — Visitors to the Bellaire pet crisis center With a Little help From My Friends get an official welcome from Moka.

The Labrador retriever was found behind a Bellaire restaurant in 2011 and now serves as the center’s mascot.

Peforming her duties has been increasingly difficult for the dog, who suffers from severe arthritis in her hips. So recently the center turned to Ellsworth veterinarian Christian Randall of North Country Veterinary Services, the first in northern Michigan to offer in-clinic adipose stem cell therapy.

The procedure uses a pet’s own blood and tissue to produce plasma-rich platelets and stem cells that proliferate growth in damaged areas.

Dormant stem cells are separated from adipose -- fat tissue -- and activated with an LED technology that uses three different wave lengths of light. Then the cells are injected directly into the affected area or administered intravenously to help promote regeneration. The result is a decrease in pain and lameness and increased range of motion.

“It’s using the body’s own repair cells to repair damage,” said Trey Smith, director of laboratory services for MediVet America, which developed the technology Randall uses.

The therapy is the first treatment to help heal and slow the progression of osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease rather than just cope with the symptoms, said Randall, who saw the results while studying at Virginia Equine Imaging and now plans to use it on equine as well as canine and feline patients.

“It concentrates, speeds up and amplifies the body’s own healing power,” he said.

Stem cell therapy has been around for a while, but in-clinic availability of the technology is new. Only a handful of veterinarians in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids offer the services, said Randall, who charges $1,800 to treat a dog or cat. Repeat injections are possible with banked plasma-rich platelets and stem cells.

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