Dogs take part in stem cell study

Posted at 9:37 PM, Mar 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-09 21:37:16-05

DENVER, CO (KCNC/CNN) - Sawyer Howell and Boone have been buddies for the better part of 10 years.

"He's been all over, all over the country hiking with me," Howell said.

Boone was even the ring bearer in Howell’s wedding. But the German shepherd has hip dysplasia and now he's suffering from osteoarthritis.

“It's been, you know, kind of sad watching him slow down," Howell said.

Boone's x-ray’s show significant arthritis in both of his back hips. Now, he's part of a cutting-edge study to see if stem cells can help.

“I think it's really ingenious because they do it in the NFL, they do it in horses, so why not dogs," said Dr. Analisa Achilling, a veterinarian.

The stem cells come from puppy umbilical cords and are processed into an injection by a company called Animal Cell Therapies.

"I really hope that, with the study, we're able to see if it actually benefits," Achilling said.

Boone got his injection several months ago. Now he still has to come in for blood work and his owners have to keep a log of his progress.

"We have so many owners who come in and say I hate to see my dog in pain. It's heartwarming that we can also give them another alternative," said Angela Vogt, the study coordinator.

It's a double-blind study so Howell doesn't know if Boone got the stem cells or a placebo.

"He hasn't gotten any worse," Howell said.

Boone is one of about 600 dogs in the study. When all the results are in, stem cells may become the latest tool in to treat canine arthritis.

"Absolutely anything that can help make him feel better, I'm all for it," Howell said.

Right now, veterinarians use lasers, acupuncture and medications to treat arthritis in dogs. The hope is stem cells will offer significant improvement with fewer side effects.

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