The use of stem cells in humans is still in its infancy — it has been used to treat man’s best friend for the last two decades — and one veterinary clinic in Bellevue is now offering the procedure that can treat a host of degenerative conditions.
Bruce Singbeil, owner and lead vet of Crossroads Vet in Bellevue, had his staff trained on a stem-cell procedure on a recent weekday morning. Inside the clinic, a 12-year-old Norfolk Terrier awaited a stem-cell procedure, which the doctors hope will treat its osteoarthritis.
“These stem cells do a lot of different things,” Singbeil said.
The process involves taking blood from an animal for its plasma as well as fat. The fat is then processed to remove stem cells and combined with the plasma and injected into joints to stimulate regrowth of damaged or degraded tissues. It works particularly well for arthritis, hip dyspepsia, joint cartilage damage, ligament and tendon damage.
Ciara Lomax, a lab tech with MediVet Biologics, was training the vet team on how to conduct the stem-cell procedure.
“It works wonders for all kinds of arthritis,” she said.
Once the tissue regrows, the animals generally see their symptoms reduced. However, since the diseases it treats are degenerative, they often require follow-up injections to maintain a symptom-free life, Lomax said. One way to make the process easier is to let vets save tissues and stem cells when pets are brought in to be spayed or neutered. Lomax said the tissue can be preserved for later in the animal’s life instead of extracting fat at the time of the procedure.
Singbeil said he’s been following advancements in pet stem-cell therapy for years and finally decided it was time to offer it to his clients. He plans on providing the therapy in the future and said he sees many pets come through his doors who could benefit from it.
“I think we’re going to be quite successful with this,” he said.
According to a 2016 study published in Scientifica, almost all animal tissues can be repaired or regenerated by applying stem cells locally. Stem cells have the ability to generate new cells of tissue.
The Crossroads Vet clinic is located at 15600 NE 8th St. in Bellevue.