Arthritic pets see improvement from stem cell injections

- Brian Cirillo is concerned about his 4-year-old dog, Cosby's health. Brian and his wife are self-proclaimed suckers for homeless pets and have six adopted dogs.

"He's always the last one to kind of get moving and if he's laying down for a long time he takes a long time to stand up," Brian explained. "He's the only one that's so scared of everything and I'm starting to wonder now if it's because he's in pain."

To diagnose the problem Cosby got a physical exam, x-rays, and blood tests. There's a possibility Cosby could also qualify to get an injection of experimental stem cells into his joint.

"We're looking at taking the miraculous healing capabilities of the body, concentrating it, and then bringing it back to the body and we're not seeing a lot of side effects," veterinarian Dr. Michael Amsberry said.

He owns the St. Francis Pet Care Center. It's one of several sites across the country taking part in a clinical trial testing whether specially-grown stem cells made by animal cell therapies in San Diego, will help arthritis symptoms in dogs.

"Specifically this study is knees, hips, elbows and shoulders, but the most common is hips," he explained.

The cells are grown from umbilical cord blood.

"What they've done is harvested little umbilical cords from C-sections from dogs and they isolate these cells," Dr. Amsberry described.
      
When the cells grow up, researchers are able to culture them into hundreds of millions of cells. This means one sample can treat thousands of dogs. The treatment is free and Dr. Amsberry says he's injected eight dogs so far.

It's an experimental option Brian hopes will work for Cosby.

"If we can try to get ahead of the problem with stem cells and actually cure the problem and he doesn't have to be on a lot of chemicals and medicines his whole life, that would be great," he said.

For more information on the study or to see if your dog could qualify, visit http://petstemcells.org/.

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