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Stem cell treatments could provide the relief your pet needs

By Jason Wheeler, Volusia County Reporter

Last Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2012 @ 04:25PM


Veterinarians are offering more than yearly vaccinations, teeth cleaning and de-clawing.

In fact, one of the faster growing treatments is now stem cell therapy.

Dr. Tom MacPhail spends much of his time at the DeLand Animal Hospital handling the normal, day-to-day cases every office like his sees.

The day we caught up with him, he was helping a pug named Maggie. The dog was going into labor and Dr. MacPhail and his staff wanted to make sure she would be able to deliver the puppies, even though they were a little early.

If not, they were ready to perform a cesarean section.

But at DeLand Animal Hospital, they try to offer the latest and best medical options for their patients.

There’s a doctor on staff specializing in reproductive services, which is something Maggie doesn’t need right now. They also offer acupuncture.

However, it’s stem cell therapy that is the latest innovation, and is something Maggie may need a little later in life.

It involves taking fat from the animal and sending it off to a lab in California. There, the stem cells are isolated, shipped back to DeLand and then injected back into the donor pet.

It’s showing promise in many arthritis cases.

But it comes at a high price.

“For the actual stem cell therapies, about $1,999,” Dr. MacPhail said. “But we do have to do some preliminary testing, X-rays and blood work, which can run $300 or $400 too.”

Even still, that’s far less than the thousands more for a hip replacement.

In the two or so years they’ve been offering the treatment, approximately 20 dogs have undergone stem cell therapy with each getting varying help.

Dr. MacPhail said the farther along the arthritis is, the less help this treatment offers or there may be a need to do it more often.

What MacPhail and veterinarians like him are finding is that, in many aspects, they’re more on the cutting edge of technology than some doctors who specialize in the pet’s owners, especially in recent years.

“I think in the past 10 to 15 years things have gone from pretty routine up until the early 90s, mid-90s and then there it really started progressing,”  MacPhail said.

It’s been up to veterinarians to keep up with the demands of owners who want their pets to stay healthy longer.

Those demands have also led Dr. MacPhail and his staff to start 24-hour service starting April 28.


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Massage after activity

Study shows massage reduces inflammation following strenuous exercise

February 1st, 2012 in Health

Most athletes can testify to the pain-relieving, recovery-promoting effects of massage. Now there’s a scientific basis that supports booking a session with a massage therapist: On the cellular level massage reduces inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscle. The research, involving scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario appears in the February 1st online edition of Science Translational Medicine.

The study involved the genetic analysis of muscle biopsies taken from the quadriceps of eleven young males after they had exercised to exhaustion on a stationary bicycle. One of their legs was randomly chosen to be massaged. Biopsies were taken from both legs prior to the exercise, immediately after 10 minutes of massage treatment and after a 2.5 hour period of recovery.

Buck Institute faculty Simon Melov, PhD, was responsible for the genetic analysis of the tissue samples. “Our research showed that massage dampened the expression of inflammatory cytokines in the muscle cells and promoted biogenesis of mitochondria, which are the energy-producing units in the cells,” said Melov. He added that the pain reduction associated with massage may involve the same mechanism as those targeted by conventional anti-inflammatory drugs. “There’s general agreement that massage feels good, now we have a scientific basis for the experience,” said Melov.

Study participants were recruited at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Lead author Mark Tarnopolsky, MD, PhD, from the Department of Pediatrics and Medicine said the research provides much needed validation for a practice that is growing in popularity. “The potential benefits of massage could be useful to a broad spectrum of individuals including the elderly, those suffering from musculoskeletal injuries and patients with chronic inflammatory disease,” said Tarnopolsky. “This study provides evidence that manipulative therapies, such as massage, may be justifiable in medical practice.”

About 18 million individuals undergo massage therapy annually in the U.S., making it the fifth most widely used form of complementary and alternative medicine. Despite several reports that long-term massage therapy reduces chronic pain and improves range of motion in clinical trials, the biological effects of massage on skeletal tissue have remained unclear.

Provided by Buck Institute for Age Research

“Study shows massage reduces inflammation following strenuous exercise.” February 1st, 2012.