Regenerative Medicine refers to an exciting new branch of medicine seeking to utilize and augment the body’s innate ability to repair itself.
A primary focus has been the use of multi-potent stem cells, which are able to develop into a variety of different cell types, potentially enabling the repair, regeneration, and improved function of damaged or diseased tissue.
Techniques have been developed over the past decade to facilitate the use of autologous stem cells, that is cells derived from a patient’s own adipose (fat) tissue. Cells derived from adipose tissue are known as mesenchymal stem cells. They may differentiate into cells that form tissues such as bone, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
The stem cells are extracted, purified and concentrated, then injected directly into regions of the body needing treatment. Once collected and processed, cells may also be grown in the lab to expand their numbers and stored for use at a future time.
Current applications for stem cell therapy (SCT) in veterinary medicine include tendon and ligament injuries, and osteoarthritis. Research is presently underway at multiple institutions to explore the potential use of stem cells in an array of other conditions, including immune mediated disease and organ dysfunction.
In addition to SCT, we also have the ability to prepare platelet rich plasma (PRP) from a patient’s own blood. PRP provides a high concentration of growth factors and other substances, forming an enriched environment that stimulates healing.
PRP may be used in conjunction with SCT to enhance recruitment of stem cells to the target site, or on its own, as an autologous therapy in the treatment of soft tissue and joint injuries.