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Stem Cell Therapy

Stem Cells for Immune Modulation and Antimicrobial Activity

Faculty in the Department of Clinical Sciences and the Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine, use stem cells to suppress abnormal immune responses in inflammatory diseases such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. They are also investigating the ability of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to stimulate healing and reduce inflammation in chronic kidney disease.  More recent studies are now investigating the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and their potential for inducing regeneration of organs such as the liver, kidney and spinal cord. 

Current Studies

  • Stem cell therapy for chronic kidney disease in cats
    Studies are being done to determine whether infusions of MSCs can improve kidney function in cats with naturally-occurring chronic kidney disease (CKD) and to understand the mechanisms by which these cells may protect the kidneys. These studies are using MSCs to treat pet cats with naturally-occurring CKD, which is the number one cause of death in older cats, as a model to also investigate the effectiveness of MSC therapy for end stage renal disease in humans.  Current studies are investigating how the route of stem cell delivery may affect kidney function, and whether activation of the stem cells may improve their efficacy.
    Program faculty: Drs. Jessica Quimby, Steven Dow, and Tracy Webb

  • Stem cell therapy for suppression of chronic wound infection in dogs
    Recent studies in the Center for Immune and Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) have uncovered unique biological properties of activated MSCs, which produce factors that potently suppress bacterial infections.  Studies in rodent models have shown that MSCs treatment, combined with conventional antibiotic therapy, can significantly control chronic wound infections.  A clinical trial in dogs with chronic wound infections with drug-resistant bacteria is being conducted to explore this treatment effect.
    Program faculty: Drs. Valerie Johnson and Steven Dow

Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Bone Healing

Researchers in the Flint Animal Cancer Center are using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to enhance bone healing following surgery or radiation therapy for bone cancer, with the ultimate goal of improving treatment outcomes in children and dogs with bone cancer. 

Current Studies

  • Effects of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) on incorporation of massive cortical allografts following limb salvage surgery
    Studies are being conducted to determine how MSCs derived from adipose tissues or bone marrow can be used to stimulate the incorporation of bone grafts into large fracture gaps after bone resection for bone cancer, using mouse models and dogs with cancer.
    Program faculty: Dr. Nicole Ehrhart

​Stem Cells for Joint and Ligament Healing


Faculty in the Equine Orthopedic Research Center (ORC) are investigating the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to stimulate cartilage and ligament healing and to enhance tissue healing following sports-related injuries in horses. 

Current Studies

  • Stem cell transfection with IL-1Ra to stimulate healing of cartilage and tendon injuries
    Investigators in the ORC are studying the effects of joint injection with MSCs transfected to over-express the equine IL-1Ra gene in order to suppress joint inflammation and stimulate cartilage healing, using experimental and clinical equine models.
    Program faculty: Drs. Wayne McIlwraith, Laurie Goodrich, and David Frisbie

  • Effects of in vitro differentiation on MSCs resistance to compressive forces as a model for cartilage healing
    The use of MSCs offers the potential to one day regenerate new cartilage to repair chronic joint injuries in horses and humans. To help develop new MSCs-based therapies, researchers in the ORC are using in vitro assays with MSCs and growth factors and substrates to assess the impact of these factors on differentiation of MSCs into functional chondrocytes.
    Program faculty: Drs. Wayne McIlwraith and David Frisbie

Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells from dogs, cats and horses

Investigators at the CIRM and Gates Center for Stem Cell Research at UC Denver are developing new methods to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from adult tissues (skin, blood, joints) of dogs, cats and horses. iPSC have the ability to regenerate multiple different tissues in the body and can be derived from adult tissues rather than fetal tissues. Thus, iPSC have tremendous new potential in the field of regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy. The iPSC will be used to regenerate new tissues to be used for spinal cord repair, joint and tendon repair, kidney repair, and suppression of bacterial infections in animals and in humans.  
Program faculty: Drs. Steven Dow and Peter Koch

Stem cells for osteoarthritis in dogs

Studies are currently underway in the CIRM investigating the ability of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to improve joint function, reduce joint pain, and stimulate cartilage repair in dogs with chronic degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis (OA). Pilot studies in dogs with OA treated by i.v. administration of MSC have shown notable improvement in function and reduction in joint pain. The Center is also exploring the use of iPSC-derived cells for treatment of canine OA.
Program faculty: Drs. Felix Duerr, Nastasha Olsen, Tracy Webb, and Valerie Johnson

Neural stem cells for spinal cord injury in dogs

Studies are underway to develop techniques to generate neural stem cells from canine induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). These iPSC-derived neural stem cells derived are now being investigated for their ability to stimulate spinal cord repair and regeneration in dogs with rear limb paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury.
Program faculty: Dr. Stephanie McGrath, Lyndah Chow, Rebecca Packer, and Steven Dow

Stem cells for inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats

The use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease in dogs and cats is being investigated by CIRM faculty. These studies include generation of MSC from iPSC, testing in animal models of IBD, and evaluation in clinical trials in dogs and cats with IBD.
Program faculty: Drs. Craig Webb, David Twedt, Sirikul Soontararap, Tracy Webb, and Steven Dow

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