Stem cell treatment: Controversial for humans, but not for pets

PHOENIX, Ariz. -

Stem cell research and therapy on humans has traveled a long and often politically troubled path.

Not so for pets, where stem cell treatment has been used for nearly 10 years and now it is so routine, and so successful, it can be done in a day.

Ava is a 90 pound, 2-year-old Akita, who is about to undergo stem cell surgery. A little IV, a little anesthesia and Ava is out.

"It is used for arthritis mostly," said Dr. Velvet Edwards.

Ava is just beginning her day at Pecan Grove Veterinary Hospital in Tempe. Dr. Edwards oversees the stem cell procedure.

"Stem cells are healing cells, so they seek out area of injury damage or destruction," explained Edwards. "They accelerate healing and help the animal, the patient, the pet just use their own natural abilities to get better."

Veterinary stem cells are harvested from the animal's own fat cells. They are separated and processed by machinery right inside the vet's office and then injected back into the dog's trouble spots.

Thanks to new technology developed by Meti Vet, the process is completed in just a day.

"The pet comes in the morning, it's anesthetized and I collect about two to four grams of fat usually behind the shoulder blade," said Edwards. "Then I hand that fat over to my technicians to run it through a series of steps.. basically to dissolve the fat and get down to a little stem cell pellet... Then we take that pellet and we reconstitute it and make it injectable. I will put it back into the animal's body wherever I need it later that day."

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Stem cell treatment: Controversial for humans, but not for pets

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