By: Megan Palera
A groundbreaking medical procedure is being done right here in Lincoln: stem cell therapy on animals.
Max is a healthy and active 13-year-old chocolate lab. But in the last year, he's been plagued by arthritis.
"His hips and knees and back are arthritic. He just played and ran hard his whole life," Dr. Pat McInteer said.
So his owner and Lincoln veterinarian, Dr. McInteer decided to try something unconventional - stem cell therapy. The process is simple and there's not a lot of risk. The best part is that it can all be done in the clinic on the same day.
First, Max is knocked out with a local anesthetic. Then Dr. McInteer removes a piece of fat from the shoulder area. Once that fat is removed, it takes four to five hours for the stem cells to be extracted. Then the cells are injected back into the dog's joints.
"Nothing we are doing here has anything to do with embryonic stem cells. We're taking one animals fat, taking their own stem cells and placing them back in there," McInteer said.
Unlike pain killers that can be harmful to the liver and offer minor relief, the regenerative medicine begins to work immediately. Within 10 days Max will notice less pain and in three weeks he'll most likely be able to run, jump and sit pain free.
The stem cell treatment will run you $1,500 - $2,000 for a dog. The benefits last one to three years. It can be used on any animal suffering from arthritis or a similar ailment.