Stem cell treatment brings back pet dogs from the brink of death

17th January 2011

Pet dogs suffering terminally with spinal injuries were treated successfully with allogenic mesenchymal stem cells by scientists of Physiology and Climatology (P&C) and Surgery Divisions of IVRI. These dogs could not be treated with conventional methods and owners had lost all hope and were contemplating euthanasia. Prof. M.C. Sharma, Director, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (ICAR), informed that stem cells, considered as the wonder cells, can be used for regeneration therapy. It is a promising field of research with immense potential, and research related to mainly embryonic stem cells, cord blood and mesenchymal stem cells is being conducted at this institute. This is the first research outcome from stem cell treatment in animals in India.

The Head of Division P&C, Principal investigator (PI), Dr (Mrs) Taru Sharma and Dr Amar Pal, Senior Scientist and Co PI, Division of Surgery under whom the research project was initiated, informed about the treatment. A three and a half year old male Dachshund dog that suffered from hind limb paralysis could move with forelimbs very fast but dragged the hind quarters. Animal did not respond to the superficial pain but deep pain was intact. The bone marrow cells were transplanted (allogenically) at the site of injury. After one and a half months time the animal showed some improvement and it started to put some weight on its right hind limb when the animal was brought to standing position by the owner. However, the animal was not able to get up on its own. After 40 days of a second injection, the animal was able to get up for a few seconds and after another five days was able to walk for short distances. Thereafter the animal improved very fast and in the next 15 days the animal was able to walk and move freely without any in-coordination and all the wounds on the hind feet had healed. In another case, a 10 year old Spitz dog was suffering for more than a year.     This dog was given the allogenic mesenchymal stem cell therapy, it showed some improvement after a month’s time. Incoordination of hind limbs reduced and the animal was able to get up and sit down without difficulty. It walked without dragging the limbs and used hind limbs even for scratching. Proprioception was almost normal and patellar reflexes were normal in both hind limbs. The animal was again treated with the stem cells and it improved greatly. The animal owner reported that the dog could support full weight on hind limbs. The overall recovery was considered as very satisfactory.

Further research and clinical trials are continuing at IVRI and hopefully the stem cell technology will soon be used in specialized veterinary clinics to treat such cases that are not amenable to conventional treatment.

(Source: IVRI, Izatnagar)