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In today’s VETgirl blog, we interview Dr. Kristina Kiefer, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor at University of Minnesota on the use of stem cells for the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs.
Osteoarthritis is a non-reversible disease in which the joint loses cartilage and begins to ossify. This causes pain and therefore lameness. Current therapies involve weight control, pain management (including NSAIDs, tramadol, etc.), alternative medicine (e.g., acupuncture), and physical therapy. Allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell (ASC) therapy is currently being looked at as a possible treatment for this disease. This involves the collection of mesenchymal stem cells from fat in normal dogs undergoing routine surgeries. Because the cells come from one dog to another, it is considered allogeneic (non-self).  The reason stem cell therapy is promising is that these cells are multipotent, or are capable of becoming many types of cells, and anti-inflammatory. In theory, mesenchymal stem cells can differentiate into cartilage. We suspect that allogeneic stem cell therapy will increase healing of joints affected by osteoarthritis and slow down arthritic progression.
Dr. Kiefer is teaming up with the Clinical Investigative Center (CIC) at the University of Minnesota on a study called “Evaluation of Allogeneic Stem Cells as an Adjuvant Therapy for Osteoarthritis.” They are currently enrolling patients in the study. If you are in the state of Minnesota, Iowa, or the surrounding area, this study is seeking canine patients that have osteoarthritis in one or more joints, that clinically impacts their daily life. Inclusion criteria are adult dogs that have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis through physical examination, blood work, urinalysis and radiographs, and the commitment to complete a 12 week study. If the dog qualifies, they will be randomly assigned to a treatment group or control group. The treatment group will receive allogeneic stem cells either intravenously or intra-articularly, while the placebo group with receive saline in place of cells. Stem cell therapy is provided free of charge to all participants. If a patient was assigned to a placebo group, they will receive stem cell therapy at the conclusion of the study. To enroll in the study, please contact the CIC at vcic@umn.edu or 612-624-2485.  Dr. Kiefer can be contacted directly at kief0048@umn.edu

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