Posted on Feb 26, 2019, 3 p.m.
Veterinarian Dr. Steven Dale Garner is pushing the envelope forward and has begun using stem cell therapy to treat paralyzed dogs in a transformative treatment that can restore spinal cord function and regenerate cartilage along with treating arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, dry eye and hemolytic anemia in cats and dogs which were previously thought to be incurable.
Dr. Steven Dale Garner treated a paralyzed dog that was scheduled to be euthanized with stem cell therapy back in 2016, today that same dog is happily running about just like any normal dog, after having stem cell treatment that was injected into its spinal cord at his clinic.
Dr. Garner explains that: “Stem cells are everywhere in the body, they’re in suspended animation; they’re not moving, they’re hibernating. We harvest these cells and grow them to therapeutic numbers, so they are ready on a moments notice. Dogs with spinal cord disease, need treatment today, they can’t wait three weeks while cells are grown. We can do everything that can be done for humans in dogs right here at this lab.”
Dr. Garner was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to expand a bit on how the process works: “I understand how other veterinarians might not believe in stem cells - I stiff armed the concept myself for years. The medicine I was taught did not include the healing mechanisms involved in stem cell therapy, and without those mental mechanisms, it seems impossible that stem cell therapy could work. Until just a few years ago, we did not know that stem cells were in every tissue of the body and that we do not need embryos or embryonic stem cells for therapy.”
“Stem cell therapy is regenerative therapy that restores tissues back to their original state. Healing, on the other hand, creates scar tissue which is not as good as original. Scar tissue is created by fibroblast cells which, until a few years ago, could not be distinguished from stem cells - even with an electron microscope. The difference between stem cells and scar tissue cells or fibroblasts is the function of the DNA of the stem cell.”
“Every cell shares an exact copy of the DNA or "cookbook of the cell," but not every cell can read every recipe. Stem cells, however, can read every recipe of the DNA. This is the difference between stem cells and other body cells.”
“With spinal cord injuries, inflammation and swelling cause most of the damage after an injury and stem cells are the most effective treatment for this swelling. The spinal cord heals primarily by using the surviving nerves to take over the functions of the nerves that died from the injury. Anything that preserves more nerves from dying increases the chances that a pet will walk.”
“With long-term cases, we know that that after about 6 weeks, the spinal cord forms scar tissue that blocks healing and rejoining of the nerves. This scar tissue must be disrupted for stem cells to be effective. You must be certain about delivering the appropriate type of stem cells in the correct number into the exact location of injury to be effective in treating spinal cord injury.’
With spinal cord injury, stem cell therapy is not effective without physical therapy. Physical therapy generates impulses from the brain down the spinal cord to the area of injury. These impulses direct the stem cells in how to bridge the neural connections. The reverse is also true: by stimulating the toes, feet, and legs, impulses are sent up to the brain.”
“Stem cells are factories whose products are growth factors that stimulate the tissues to regenerate. Keeping these factories where the damage is and keeping them happy and healthy is one of the challenges of stem cell therapy.”
“We now grow stem cells in a gel matrix that is liquid at room temperature but becomes more solid at body temperature. Stem cells in this gel are protected, happy, and stay in place. This gel keeps the stem cell therapy working for at least 90 days.”
“Stem cells are natural and are in every tissue of the body. So why do they not just work on their own? Because there are not enough of them. Stem cells are immortal and can divide forever, given the food and opportunity in the laboratory. We culture billions of cells and apply tens of millions of cells to the affected area where there are normally only a few hundred.”
In his League City, Texas in-house stem cell lab at Safari Veterinary Care Centers Dr. Steven Dale Garner implements a translational medicine approach to stem cell therapy wherein validated research is applied to clinical cases, much of which was conducted on dogs but were focused on human needs. Over 5 years he developed an advanced system for processing stem cells, evaluating viability, expanding cultures, and cryopreserve stem cells lines by keep them in an appropriate environment, and skilled staff surgeons who can then inject them into spines, discs, joints and other areas using real time radiography. To fully bring stem cell treatment to the full circle of success they also have rehabilitation specialists armed with extensive knowledge and tools in order to further help translate research into reality to fully utilize the benefits of stem cells.
1 in 4 Dachshunds will develop a genetic disc disease, which is incurable and can cause paralysis, most dogs with degenerative disc disease are between 4-6 years old, and there is likely a genetic predisposition to this disease. Certain breeds have a high incidence of intervertebral disc disease including the Dachshund, Poodle, German Shepherd, Doberman, Cocker Spaniel, Pekinese, and Lhasa Apso. Now thanks to cutting edge science and passionate doctors such as Dr. Garner, stem cell therapy is stepping up to the plate to change that, to help keep the furry bundles of joy and unconditional love walking as they wag those tails happily.
"Why is establishment medicine dragging its feet on spinal cord stem cell therapies when there is ample evidence in dogs, mice, and even some humans that spinal cord repair is not just possible, but can be accomplished today? Millions with spinal cord injuries may be living a life of crippling pain and disability without need."
Dr. Ronald Klatz, MD., DO.
President and founder of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
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