Researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts are treating family pets with stem cells for several diseases and hopefully fast-tracking stem cell therapies in humans, which are currently not approved by the DEA with the exception of bone marrow transplants. 

Anal furunculosis, a suspected autoimmune disease, causes painful, foul smelling lesions on a dogs rump and plagued the Joseffy family’s yellow lab Bella. Expensive medicines had not helped Bella and when the cost became too much, they were desperate. When they inquired what other treatments could help, they got lucky and landed in the veterinary school’s clinical trial pairing stem cell therapy and traditional medications. After drawing a bone marrow sample and growing mesenchymal stem cells in the laboratory, researchers injected the cells at the lesion sites once a month for three months. Bella, who has not sat willingly due to pain, was able to sit post treatment. 

So how does this translate to humans? The disease Bella suffers from is similar to Crohn’s disease in humans and a recent publication in the journal of the British Society of Gastroenterology, researchers reported that stem cells successfully treated lesions in several human patients and shrank lesions in other cases, without any side effects. If you know anyone with Crohn’s disease and how they suffer this is great news!

Other applications for stem cells could include repair of cardiac tissue after heart failure and brain tissue repair for stroke victims. Diseases of the immune system as well such as Lupus, multiple sclerosis, and can be used as repair kits for rheumatoid arthritis, and scar tissue that develops after a heart attack. Stem cells… there anything they can’t do?!? Click below to read more on Bella’s study and stem cells in general.

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