Kidney failure is one of the most debilitating maladies for a patient and extremely frustrating for a care provider. Like nerve cells, kidney cells are very poor at regeneration….once they are gone, they are gone. In trying to help a dog or cat with kidney failure, I usually feel as though my “hands of treatment” are handcuffed in that there are very limited options to slow down the process and maintain adequate kidney function. People who are in this state receive twice weekly dialysis and hope to qualify for a kidney transplant. That is why this area of stem cell research is so very exciting for me. I am frustrated and want to provide better options for my clients.
This group of researchers from Seoul, Korea evaluated 6 dogs with acute kidney failure. Though a very small study, the results indicate that autologous bone-marrow derived stem cells not only decreased a number of inflammatory markers, but there was a decrease in scar tissue development and an increased proliferation of kidney tubular cells over the control group. It is important to note that the researchers did not find an improvement in kidney function, but this study may not have followed these patients long enough after treatment to properly evaluate functional improvement. Once again, the indications are good but we need more studies in this very important area.