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Does your pet suffer from osteoarthritis?

Regenerative therapy in the form of Stem Cells may dramatically improve his/her mobility and Quality of life.

Blue Hills Veterinary hospital – Cutting edge Stem Cell therapy

Dr Tim Hepplestone recently attended a conference regarding the advancement of Stem Cell Therapy as a treatment for animals suffering from Osteoarthritis. His enthusiasm regarding this treatment spurred the acquisition of the required equipment.  We are currently only the second practice in South Africa to offer Stem Cell Therapy.

Dr Tim’s own beloved chocolate Labrador ‘Grommet’ was the first patient who underwent this literally life changing treatment. Please watch the before and after videos which speak volumes of how this treatment can improve quality of life for our most beloved companions. Following the Blue Hills Veterinary hospital – Cutting edge Stem Cell therapy videos is information about  Stem Cell Therapy and answers to questions you may have after viewing Grommet in action.

For more comprehensive information and any further questions you may have please contact us on 011 318 2340 / 1

The proof is in the video!

Grommet – typical labrador with hip and elbow dysplasia. 13yrs old. Pre operation.



Grommet post operation – 7 days later…


Grommet 30 days post op…


The Science behind Adipose Derived Stem Cells
Adult Stem Cells (ASCs) found in adipose tissue have the ability to differentiate into cell types such as cartilage, bone and muscle.

Endothelium, pancreatic cells, bone, myocardium (heart muscle), liver and neural cells can also be induced given the right conditions in an animal’s body. Adipose (fat) tissue is harvested from the falciform area (above the umbilicus) of dogs and cats. General anaesthesia is required for small animals.

stem-cell-therapyThe fat that is surgically harvested is then broken down using enzymes, filtered for sterility, and washed with a mild antibiotic, to give the Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF). This SVF is the cellular material containing the adult stem cells (ASCs) used for therapy. Compared to other sources (typically bone marrow), adult stem cells found in the collected fat can range in the millions per unit of measure, as there are 50 to 1000 X more adult stem cells found in fat than in bone marrow.

Of academic interest, the breakdown of cells found in the Stromal Vascular Fraction is as follows:
(Analysis of the SVF and the derived AT MSC population by using a cytological, flow cytometrical (FACS) and in vitro assay)

  • Haematopoietic CD45 cells (9%)’
  • Monocyte progenitor CD14 cells (11%)
  • Early committed progenitor and mature granulocyte /monocyte CD13 cells (6%) Haematopoietic CD90 stem cells (29% ) (marker also expressed on connective tissue)
  • Early lymphohaematopoietic stem and progenitor cells CD34/CD133 (7%).
  • Endothelial cell-associated markers, including CD31, CD105 and CD146
  • Endothelial CD45/CD146/UEA-1 cells (8%)
  • CD271 Cells (0.6%)(Include bone marrow stromal cells, follicular dendritic cells, and mesenchymal cells involved in mesenchymal-epithelial interactions)

Which clinical conditions are currently best suited for Stem Cell therapy?

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
  • Tendon & Ligament injuries

What is Stem Cell therapy?

Stem cells are the body’s repair cells. They have the ability to divide and differentiate into many different types of cells based on where they are needed throughout the body. Stem cells can divide and turn into tissues such as skin, fat, muscle, bone, cartilage, and nerves, to name a few.

What are the different types of stem cells?

Blue Hills Veterinary hospital – Cutting edge Stem Cell therapy There are two basic types of stem cells; embryonic and somatic (adult).

Embryonic stem cells are found in the placenta and embryo. These cells are called totipotent, which means they have the ability to reproduce into any mature cell type. While embryonic stem cells offer the greatest potential in healing, there are obviously moral and ethical concerns in harvesting these cells.

The second type of stem cell is the adult stem cell. These stem cells are called multipotent, which means they can differentiate into closely related cell lines, but they are not capable of creating a complete organ. Adult stem cells are found in the bone marrow, adipose tissue (fat), skin, liver, blood vessels, and neurons. Contrary to embryonic stem cells, there are no moral or ethical concerns in harvesting these cells, activating them, and reintroducing them back to the patient in areas where healing and regeneration is needed.

So why do we take the cells from adipose (fat) tissue?

Adult stem cells are highly concentrated in the fat tissue. There are 50 to 1,000 times more stem cells in the fat than the bone marrow. At this concentration, it is no longer necessary to culture the stem cells to acquire the necessary cell numbers to make a healing impact. The procedure to extract fat from the patient is much quicker and less invasive than a spay. The stem cells are contained within a pool of cells in the fat termed the Stromal Vascular Fraction (SVF). The SVF may impart anti-inflammatory effects, add bioactive peptides, and contribute to reformation and architectural organization. These are benefits lost once stem cells are cultured.

So what can we do with the stem cells?

Adult stem cells are capable of dividing into many different cell types. With this capability, we can use them as a treatment for joint injuries, ligament and tendon damage, and fractured bones. Research and clinical trials currently support the use of stem cells in these conditions. Ongoing research is targeting other areas of the body for treatment and the preliminary results are very encouraging.

What is Adipose Stem Cell Therapy?

Blue Hills Veterinary hospital – Cutting edge Stem Cell therapy A small sample of Adipose tissue (fat) is surgically removed from the dog or cat under general anaesthetic and processed to obtain cells termed stromal vascular fraction (SVF) which include bone marrow stromal cells, follicular dendritic cells, & mesenchymal cells along with many beneficial proteins that encourage bone formation, liver cell regeneration, nervous system regeneration, wound healing, vascular rebuilding, skin repair, damaged cells to repair themselves, and cell re-growth.

What is an Adipose Stem Cell Procedure?

Blue Hills Veterinary hospital – Cutting edge Stem Cell therapy The Adipose Stem Cell Procedure is a highly practical and cost effective tool used to perform an in-house procedure for the processing of adipose tissue from a dog or cat to recover targeted stem cells and assist in the repair and recovery of injury or debilitating disorder. The procedure provides a superior alternative to harvesting and administering animals stem cells currently used in traditional bone marrow methods. The Adipose Stem Cell technique is much easier and less invasive than the Bone Marrow procedure and uses the animal’s own adipose tissue (fat) to harvest stem cells in much larger volumes (up to 1,000 times) than from bone marrow.

What are the benefits of an Adipose Stem Cell Procedure?

Stem cells play an integral part in wound healing and regeneration of body organs and tissue at the cellular level. The use of the Adipose Stem Cell Procedure gives a veterinary surgeon rapid access to large quantities of SVF to enable rapid repair and re-growth of the patient animal’s damaged tissue or organs with much less trauma that that associated with bone marrow extraction.

Is this procedure a significant improvement on other treatments currently available?

Blue Hills Veterinary hospital – Cutting edge Stem Cell therapy Yes – this procedure enables veterinarians when separating the stem cells from a fat sample to also activate the cells using an advanced patented L.E.D. technology. The in-clinic treatment is completed the same day, and there is no need for the vet to ship samples to an outside laboratory and wait days for the cells to be returned for injection on a second visit. This faster process provides increased stem cell counts up to 400 percent greater than other methods, and thus a more effective treatment while reducing costs at the same time.

How are the Stem Cells activated, are supplements required?

No supplements are required. Activation of adult stem cells is two-fold, and part of the in-house procedure: by adding plasma-rich-proteins (PRPs) to the cells, and light-activation using the patented L.E.D technology. (These PRPs are from the patient’s own blood sample, taken when the fat tissue is harvested.)

How soon after treatment can beneficial effects be seen?

From 7 days to 4-6 weeks post-therapy, and therapeutic effects last for 2-3 years.

Is an Adipose Stem Cell Procedure Safe?

Yes. Because the adipose tissue is removed from the animal’s own body, there are no problems with cell rejection or disease transmission. The surgery, harvesting, and administering of stem cells are all performed in-house under the veterinarian’s control.

How do I know if stem cell regenerative therapy is right for my pet?

Blue Hills Veterinary hospital – Cutting edge Stem Cell therapy The therapy is most effective for animals suffering from osteoarthritis, hip & elbow dysplasia, and ligament injuries. Discussing treatment options with a qualified veterinarian is an important first step in making a decision regarding animal stem cell regenerative therapy. Potential outcomes, a comprehensive treatment plan and financial costs are all factors to consider. Pets should generally be in good health as shown in a recent physical exam. Previous surveys show more than 95% of dogs with osteoarthritis have an improved quality of life after therapy, with 75% of these patients no longer requiring pain medications.

I have heard Stem Cell Treatments are very expensive, can I afford this?

With advanced Stem Cell technology becoming available in the form of an “in house” procedure kit, so many more owners can now feasibly consider the therapy for their animals at a fraction of the cost previously incurred, and better yet, it’s a same-day hospital procedure, all making it significantly more affordable as a therapeutic option. As of February 2012, our first 8 Blue Hills Vet patients will be offered an introductory price of R10 000 for this procedure. The procedure and imported kits thereafter will cost around R13 000.

Can I store my animal’s stem cells for further therapy?

This process is not yet available in RSA.

Who can perform Adipose Stem Cell Procedures?

Any suitably qualified veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse under supervision, providing the surgery is equipped with the specified equipment and consumables, including a L.E.D.

Why Choose an Adipose Stem Cell Procedure?

Blue Hills Veterinary hospital – Cutting edge Stem Cell therapy Compared to harvesting from bone marrow Adipose tissue is easier to get in larger volumes if needed, is less painful, and involves lower risks whilst yielding many more stem cells compared to bone marrow.
There is a much shorter time from time of surgery to administering treatment using safe in-house procedures, and does not require specialised laboratory requirement with days of culturing to reach the necessary therapeutic threshold. There are no ethical or moral issues involved in harvesting adipose (fat) tissue, and considering the various differentiation and angiogenic potentials, along with immuno-suppressive properties, it shows that Adipose tissue is the preferred supply source of adult stem cells for clinical use now and into the future.

Are there any side effects from an Adipose Stem Cell Procedure?

The donor and recipient are the same. As the adipose tissue is extracted from the animal’s own body, with no ‘foreign’ donors, the process is entirely “natural”, and there are no rejection side-effects at all.

Is this an experimental therapy?
No, not at all. Successfully practiced across the EU and USA since 2003, kindly refer to or for reference information.

Does 1 kit only allow for one single joint to be treated?

More than one affected joint can be treated in the same procedure.

What can I expect post-operatively?

Patients are administered pain medication around surgery, and will be sent home on a 7 day routine antibiotic course. This is to ensure that there is no risk of infection into the body. There may be a flare-up of the joint(s) 24-48hrs post-operatively, which will go down as fast as it came up, and is nothing to be worried about.

An appointment needs to be made to discuss this with your vet.


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December 11, 2018