What are stem cells?
Stem cells are powerful healing cells in the body that can become other types of cells. There are many adult stem cells in fat tissue, however they lie dormant. Stem cell therapy allows us to isolate stem cells from an animal’s own fat tissue, activate them, and re-inject them directly into damaged areas. For example, in the case of arthritis, stem cells become new cartilage cells, reducing pain and increasing mobility.
What is so great about Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cells treat the source of the problem by becoming new tissue to replace damaged tissue. Other treatments, such as drugs, though very useful, merely attempt to reduce symptoms. The treatment is very low risk, because it uses the animal’s own stem cells. With our technology, over 95% of animals treated show improvement.
How long has this been available?
Stem cell therapy for animals has been commercially available since 2004, and thousands of animals have been treated around the world. The technology has only recently come to the UK.
Is it safe?
This procedure is very safe. The biggest risk is using a general anesthetic, to remove the fat tissue from which we isolate the stem cells. We always carry out a full pre anesthetic blood test and use the safest available anesthetics. Typically, the fat is collected in about 30 minutes. Processing the sample in our lab takes 4 hours, during which the stem cells are isolated, concentrated and activated. In the thousands of animals treated across the world, Vets have not noted side-effects from this stem cell therapy.
An initial consultation is carried out where we discuss all your concerns and carry out a full clinical examination. We will assess the current treatment protocol you have in place and make adjustments or recommendations so that we are happy that you have the benefit of all the most up to date therapies. This assessment will look at the suitability of any or all of the following conventional treatments:
- Non steroidals
- Nutritional supplements
- Dietary change
- Laser therapy
- Pulse therapy
- Cartrophen injections
In many cases, the patients we see are being treated with some or all of these but are still struggling with their condition.
In these cases we look at stem cell therapy as an additional benefit.
What happens to my pet when they come in for stem cell therapy?
The procedure is carried out in one day as an outpatient, and patients do not need an overnight stay with us.
We need some blood tests and a urine test for anesthetic safety. Once we are happy with these, we administer a short general anesthetic. Typically this lasts 30 to 90 minutes.
We need to have x-rays of the affected joints and also a chest x-ray. Where recent x-rays are available from your own Vet, we will not need to repeat these.
We then harvest approximately 40 grams of fat from a site behind the shoulder or just inside the tummy and your pet is woken from the anesthetic. There will be a few stitches that need to come out in 10 days.
A small blood sample is taken and prepared into a platelet rich plasma solution. The fat is processed to isolate, concentrate and activate stem cells in our lab, and this takes around 4 hours. The stem cells are mixed with the platelet rich plasma in preparation for injection. Once we have the stem cells, we administer a light sedative to allow us to inject the cells directly into the affected joints. A portion of the cells are given intravenously.
What is the recovery period, and how long does it take to see results?
We recommend that the patient be kept quiet for the first 10 days.
We typically see improvement starting after 3 weeks, and then continuing up to around 2 months.
How long does a treatment last? What happens if my pet starts having trouble again?
We typically see 1-3 years of relief after the initial treatment. We will bank additional stem cells, so repeat treatment is easy. We have a UK cell banking facility in Hampshire. If symptoms return, we request a dose of cells from the bank, and inject them. No repeat surgery is necessary.
Are there any animals that you don’t treat?
Yes. Because we don’t know exactly what happens when cancer patients are treated with stem cells based on human studies, we do not treat those patients, and it is for this reason that we take a chest x-ray on the day of the procedure.
- Full initial consultation and physical exam with assessment and recommendations
- Blood tests to ensure suitability for regenerative medicine therapy
- Full radiograph service under anaesthetic
- Injection of PRP into joint(s)
- Preparation, counting and culture of stem cells
- Injection of stem cells into joint(s)
- Storage of stem cells for future use in our dedicated lab
- Follow up consultations at 30, 60 and 90 days
The cost of treatment does vary for each patient depending on the individual clinical condition. We recommend an initial consultation with Dr Halperin during which all treatment and cost considerations are discussed thoroughly.
Most insurance companies will now cover the cost of the treatment, but not always the cost of cell banking. You may need to check with your insurance company to see exactly what costs they cover.