Frequently Asked Stem Cell Questions

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We are a privately held entity led by Dr. Michael Amsberry involved in the research, application, and education about Mesenchymal Stem Cell Therapy in Pets. These activities are primarily conducted out of Dr. Amsberry’s practice, Saint Francis Pet Care Center in Tarpon Springs Florida, but involves many other researchers and facilities in the area and nationwide.

These cells are found throughout the body but are more concentrated in fat and bone marrow.   Mesenchymal stem cells are constantly being created and used to repair and restore tissues in our bodies (primarily connective tissues such as bone/cartilage/muscle/tendon) that have been damaged or simply die from natural causes. As we age, we have fewer and fewer stem cells. These cells have the unique ability to travel to where they are needed (homing), decrease inflammation and pain, and become the tissue(s) that the body needs at that location at that time. Simply amazing!

We believe that they respond to “homing signals” produced by the body. The scientific community believes that these may be hormonal and/or electrochemical signals. There is much more research to be accomplished. We have shown that this happens, just not sure as to how.

Stem cells that are harvested from the patient and re-introduced back into the same patient are known as “autologous” and cells harvested from a patient and transplanted into another patient are known as “allogeneic”.

A sample of fat or bone marrow is obtained from the patient and the stem cells are isolated in an FDA-approved lab. This sample of concentrated cells are then administered back to the patient.

Stem cells are obtained from the fat, bone marrow, or umbilical cord of a donor dog. These cells are tested for viability, histocompatibility, and verified to be free of contaminants. They are then allowed to divide or replicate so that the “harvest” of stem cells from one dog, may be enough to treat hundreds of dogs. This also means that each treatment infusion contains a tremendously higher concentration of stem cells than an autologous ever could. For these reasons, Allogeneic will likely be the preferred route of Stem Cell Therapy in pets, and eventually humans.

Yes, to date, there have not been any transplant reactions in pets. These cell lines undergo a barrage of tests to assure purity, viability, and histocompatibility. These stem cells are so “naïve” or undifferentiated that they do not threaten the host and create a reaction like most transplants do.

Currently, we are working with Animal Cell Therapies of San Diego and Trinity Stem Cell Institute of Trinity Florida.

  • Animal Cell Therapies of San Diego
  • Animal Care Institute of Tampa
  • Trinity Stem Cell Institute of Trinity Florida

We hope to, but at this time, the research only supports canine Stem Cell Therapy.

This depends upon the patients’ condition that we are treating and what clinical research indicates as best medicine.  For instance, if we are treating arthritis in the knee, the cells would be placed into this joint with the help of a local anesthetic and sedation if needed.  For systemic diseases such as immune-mediated conditions, the injection will be administered IV.

Again, depending upon your pets’ condition and current research, this will vary from a few hundred thousand to tens of millions of stem cells.

If your dog qualifies for a research study, the majority of costs would likely be covered by the researcher.  If not, we would need to gain a full history of your pet and his/her problem(s), review your pet’s medical records, lab and imaging results, examine your pet and then discuss treatment options. Traditional autologous stem cell therapy could cost upto $3000. We are very excited by the advent of allogeneic therapy, in that it will likely be much less.

The infusion of stem cells takes no longer than 15 minutes

The only pain that could possibly be experienced, and oftentimes go unnoticed by our patients, is the placement of an IV catheter or the small infusion of a local anesthetic.

As the remarkable benefits and the lack of side-effects of Stem Cell Therapy become more noted, we believe that many, if not all pet insurance companies will cover it.  Please be sure to check with your insurer.

It is still very early in the building of our knowledge base but for the most common condition treated, arthritis, the success rate is close to 75%.

Again, for many conditions, we simply do not know. For arthritis, the improvements gained have lasted for months to years, depending upon the patient. A real benefit to allogeneic therapy is that we can “booster” at any time without having to repeat a harvest procedure on your pet.