UF researchers are using stem cells on dogs in an attempt to cure them of arthritis.
The research uses stem cells from donated umbilical cords from dogs, said Kathy Petrucci, chief executive officer of California-based Animal Cell Therapies, whom the university has partnered with.
“We started research late last fall in 2013. We conducted a pilot study where we only treated dogs with knee and elbow problems,” she said. “The results were good, so we moved to a control study in March.”
Although the study is still in progress, Petrucci said the findings look favorable.
“The pilot study dogs did well,” she said. “They showed improved fitness scores and activity levels.”
UF veterinarians use stem cells from the umbilical cords and insert them into the elbow or knee joints of the affected dogs. Then they monitor the dogs for improvement over six months.
A total of 18 dogs out of 150 in the study have been treated at UF over the last year.
Petrucci said the research is awaiting FDA approval for veterinary businesses to begin using the treatment on dogs they receive in their clinics, but she is hopeful.
“It’s definitely translatable to humans,” she said. “Our next step is field study.”
Merin Reji, a UF biology junior, said the research shows a possible cure for arthritis.
“It seems to me like there are people and research groups out there who are committed to finding the cure for a disease like this,” Reji, 20, said. “I think it’s great that UF is part of it.”
[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 10/22/2014]