Pet Project: Stem Cells

By Emily Pantelides - bio | email

JUNO BEACH, FL (WFLX) - What do dogs and stem cell research have in common: A cutting edge procedure that could change your dog's life and keep Fido around for much longer.

The best part? It's now being done in Palm Beach County.

Dr. Michael Stephan at the Juno Beach Animal Hospital is one of just a handful of local vets doing the incredible. "We are able to take stem cells from the body, inject them into the joint, and let the body repair itself. We are using it in cases of advanced arthritis."

A topic, so controversial on the human relm, has gone to the dogs. It's a big deal because it offers an alternative to surgery for older patients who may not be good surgical candidates.

Dr. Stephan sucks some fat out of a dog via liposuction then sends it to a California company called, 'Vet Stem'. They extract the stem cells from the fat and send a syringe full of it back to Dr. Stephan who then goes to work. "Within 48 hours, we are putting the injection back into the body of the animals own cells."

I think it's really a major advance. This means no more vets trying to physically repair injuries. The stem cells do it all.

Therefore, dogs, who are too old for surgery, have torn ACL's, advanced arthritis, or are constantly on pain meds, literally have a new lease on life. "I think this will extend the life for those patients because it gives them an alternative, a chance at normal recovery."

Right now, the procedure is still new and only being done on dogs, but there are tests to see if it will work for cats and other animals.

The procdues costs between $2,600 and $3,000.