By Elif Kucuk
ISTANBUL (AA) - Stem cell therapy offers success rates of up to 90-100% in various diseases, while the rate stands at 60-70% in paralyzed animals, Turkish veterinary surgeon Dr. Cem Perk told Anadolu on Wednesday.
The therapy, which enables the regeneration of diseased or damaged tissues and organs, provides rapid healing for animals that suffer from health problems such as paralysis, multi-organ failure, wounds, burns, and fractures.
With the development of technology and medical science, stem cells, which can be taken from bone marrow or adipose tissue (body fat) in recent years and used in the treatment of many types of diseases, play a curative role for many diseases that are difficult to treat in cats, dogs, and horses, as well as humans.
The stem cell therapy can be preferred in the treatment of various eye, joint, liver, kidney, heart, skin, and inflammatory bowel diseases in animals, as well as in non-healing wounds, burns, fractures, osteoarthritis, muscle and tendon damage, paralysis due to spinal cord and peripheral nerve damage, loss of sensation, acute and chronic gingival disorders, multiple organ failures, the dry form of feline infectious peritonitis in cats, and the nervous form of distemper in dogs.
- Therapy applied to 1.5-year-old cat
Perk said he has been applying the therapy since 2020, helping many cats and dogs regain their health.
The veterinarian also applied stem cell therapy on a 1.5-year-old cat that was found on the street and diagnosed with post-traumatic neurological dysfunction.
Perk told Anadolu that he injected the stem cell brought with the cold chain into the cat under local anesthesia.
The veterinarian said the treatment, successfully applied in many cases over the past decade, is among the modern treatment options in the field of veterinary medicine.
The stem cell, providing rapid repair in diseases and injuries, gives successful results especially in local applications in the form of injections through its healing-accelerating feature, Perk noted, saying it also creates an effective treatment option in orthopedic and neurological cases, eye diseases, and paralysis.
The aim of the treatment is for the million-level stem cells injected into the application area to settle in the tissue and turn into original cells after a while, Perk also said, listing the advantages of the treatment.
"For example, calcification (osteoarthritis), that is, in orthopedic cases, can cause pain and lameness in animals. We can see it very often in cats and dogs in advanced age. When we inject it into the joint, after a while, these cells multiply, develop, and turn into original cartilage tissue cells. They repair it as soon as possible and we achieve excellent results with rapid healing in the joint, relaxation of the movements and increase in joint fluid.
"In classical methods, methods such as cortisone or hyaluronic acid injection into the joint are performed, and these should be repeated. However, when the stem cell is injected, it transforms directly into the original tissue cells in that area," he said.
"With a new cartilage tissue, new joint fluid increase, osteoarthritis is almost completely resolved. Healing can be achieved with a preventive dose every year."
- How are stem cells applied in animals?
The veterinarian also said the stem cell therapy is applied to cats, dogs, and horses around the world, and that the treatment can be applied locally with a small needle to the soft tissue inside the eyelids in cases of multi-organ, liver, and kidney failures, intravenously, and corneal diseases and ulcers.
Explaining that in strokes and neurological dysfunctions, when injected very close to the area where the nerve passes, it promotes nerve regeneration after a while, Perk noted that stem cell applications are made with a minimum of two injections two to three weeks apart, and three injections in paralysis.
Perk explained that in Türkiye, stem cell application to animals was developed by an institution in 2017 and then it was offered to veterinary medicine.
Stem cells are usually obtained from bone marrow, cord blood, and adipose tissue, and sometimes from the placenta and amniotic fluid, Perk said, explaining: "For example, if we are going to do stem cell therapy to a dog, a sample of adipose tissue taken from another dog is turned into a special injection solution in the lab. First, it is broken down and kept in protective solutions. Then, it is placed in liquid nitrogen tanks at minus 178 degrees."
"The doctor carries out the treatment procedure by injecting this into the relevant area under sterile conditions, without the need for general anesthesia, accompanied by mild sedatives or local anesthesia. Intravenous applications are performed by injecting it into the vein in the leg after the catheter is placed."
- 'Major results appear in 2nd application'
Perk noted that after the first application in the treatment, a period of at least two to three weeks is required for the cells to progress, multiply, and reproduce, saying the major results appear when the stem cells turn into original cells after the second application.
There have been cases supporting the development of new neurological cells in around six weeks, Perk said, noting that when stem cells are injected directly into the area in non-healing fractures, bone cells reproduce rapidly and multiply, producing the ideal result.
The veterinarian also said: "We achieve 60-70% success rate in the treatment of paralyzed animals. There are almost 90-100% improvements in joint-related problems, which we call osteoarthritis.
"The degree of nerve damage in paralysis is also very important. Nerve recovery is very important. It is difficult. There are cats and dogs who remain paralyzed for life, just like humans. Through MRI, we determine the target to which we will inject these cells, and then perform the application."
- Stem cells can also be source of healing for injured animals
Recalling that many animals were injured in the twin Feb. 6 earthquakes centered in Türkiye's southern Kahramanmaras province, Perk said the stem cell therapy can be applied to those animals as well.
He added that in treating some ailments, along with this method, physical therapy has also been successful.