2490 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
Speaker: Dr Carole Spangler
Topic: Stem Cell experiments in Animals
Spangler Vaughn has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in biophysics and worked for more than 20 years on the human side of health care. Spangler worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb (a global biopharmaceutical company that specializes in discovering, developing and delivering innovative medicines) and Dendreon Corporation (a biotechnology company focused on novel cell-based therapeutics for cancer). A year ago, she started taking her more than 20 years of human health care experience and bringing it to animals. Spangler's background is in laboratory science, cells and biologics. She is with MediVet, and she provide kits and training for stem cell therapy to veterinarians. She give hands-on customer support to vet clinics.
What is stem cell therapy for animals?
Spangler Vaughn: Everybody has stem cells in their bodies. Stem cells are your natural healers; they can become any other kind of cell in your body. We call this regenerative medicine. We take fat, and from the fat we extract stem cells and put those stem cells directly in the areas that are damaged or worn out. In the case of arthritis, the stem cells regenerate cartilage. The beauty about stem cells is they solve the source of the problem and grow back the cartilage so the animals can move again without pain. This is unlike other treatments, like drugs, that only mask symptoms.
Can it be used on any animal?
Spangler Vaughn: Any animal that has fat is a potential candidate, so our company has done a broad range of animals – dogs, cats, horses, zebras, camels. We even treated a bird.
What other diseases does it help with?
Spangler Vaughn: We know it helps with joint problems and injuries. For arthritis, hip dysplasia and soft-tissue injuries, animals treated with MediVet stem cell therapy will get better 95-98 percent of the time. We’ve treated thousands of animals, so we’re pretty comfortable saying that. On the human side, there are a lot of clinical trials going on for many conditions such as incontinence, Parkinson’s, diabetes, replacing skin for burn victims. We’re taking some of that information and trying it on animals. One of the conditions we found success in is end-stage renal disease for cats. We’ve seen some good results with feline stomatitis, as well.
If I bring in my dog, what happens next?
Spangler Vaughn: The treatment can be done in one day. The pet comes in in the morning and goes under general anesthesia. The vet removes two to four tablespoons of fat, which takes about 10 minutes with most dogs. The dog wakes up from the anesthetic. The fat is processed right there in the clinic, which takes about three hours. Then the cells are handed back to the vet, who will inject the cells into the problem joints – hips, knees, elbows. We also do an IV treatment. We take some of the cells and drip them into an IV because, on the human side, we know that stem cells have the ability to find areas of damage.
Spangler Vaughn: We think it’s because the cartilage was weak in the floppy ear, and the stem cells regenerated more cartilage in the weak area, making it stand up. That’s why we do the IV. Often, someone will say the dog is walking better and its skin condition cleared up, for example – the ear standing up was kind of a cute story. There was a dog on Kauai that couldn’t even stand up to go shishi, and two weeks later she’s able to stand up. It’s pretty exciting.
Getting back to the procedure, after the IV and joint injections, the dog is free to go home. For about 10 days we recommend that the dog keep kind of quiet. We inject stem cells, but we also put back in some natural, really potent anti-inflammatories. In some cases these animals feel really good pretty quickly, but you have to be careful because they need to build up their muscles and do some physical therapy. Swimming is good; walking in water is really good. Just watch them, because they may want to go run a mile, but they need to go slowly to help them rehab.
Are any risks involved with the procedure?
Spangler Vaughn: There’s obviously risks associated with putting a dog under anesthetic. As for removing the fat, it’s easier than a spay. It’s fairly noninvasive. We’ve treated thousands of animals and we haven’t seen any negative side effects from stem cell therapy.
Anything you would like to add?
Spangler Vaughn: Some vets say the mental acuity of the animal improves – they can tell there’s something different in the animal’s attitude and approach. I think a lot of it is, you take away the chronic pain in anybody and they’re going to be happier and lighter in spirit.
Is this same stem cell therapy used on humans?
Spangler Vaughn:Yes, it is the same. Stem cell research on humans is rapidly advancing. Pharmaceutical companies like Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer either are involved in stem cell research now, or they have it in their future plans. Right now, there are almost 2,000 human clinical trials going on in the U.S., looking at many different conditions. For example, several patients have received new windpipes that were grown from stem cells, and research is being done to see if organs can be grown from stem cells. Just last year, the first stem cell therapy was approved in Canada, and I am sure this is the first of many. Also, the Nobel Prize was awarded last fall for stem cell work. Stem cell therapy is where we will see exciting breakthroughs in the future.