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Local vets adopt stem cell therapy to treat injured dogs

by CAITLIN BIRCH on May 17, 2015 1:59 AM

Indian Springs Veterinary Clinic’s veterinarians are bringing their success in stem cell therapy to treat local dogs.

Dr. Yogi Mirsa and Dr. Jay Patlola of Indian Springs Veterinary Clinic, along Indian Springs Road in White Township, are offering stem cell therapy to treat dogs in the Indiana area on long-term, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and who are experiencing osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, allergies, and tendon and ligament injuries.

Mirsa and Patlola have had past success with the procedure.

At 12 years old, a black Labrador retriever named Robbie was receiving treatment and pain medication at another animal hospital for severe arthritis, but he did not do well. Eventually, Robbie was suffering so badly that he was unable to squat outside and stand up. That’s when his owner found Mirsa and Patlola via the Internet to learn more about what the stem cell procedure could do for Robbie.

“When a young individual gets injured, they heal quickly within three to four weeks,” Mirsa said. “The same individual 25 years later fractures a bone, and instead of taking three weeks it takes six to eight weeks or longer.”

Younger people, Mirsa said, have more healing cells in the body that facilitate the fast-healing process. The healing cells, which are stem cells, are more active and more mobile, so they will travel throughout the whole body when the individual is younger.

There are two types of stem cells: embryonic and mesenchymal, Mirsa said, but the stem cells used in this treatment are mesenchymal.

“Mesenchymal stem cells are present in the fat inside your belly, under your skin and inside your body,” he said. “These stem cells have inherent power to develop to any other organ or tissue, wherever the healing is needed.”

Different from the embryonic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells reside in the body’s fat, he said.

“It’s just the fat; it’s like going for a micro-liposuction,” Mirsa said. “We take a little bit of the fat from there, take it to the lab at the hospital or on the premises, and take the stem cells out of the fat.”

Mirsa said that it’s a six-hour procedure and they have a lab where they take the stem cells out and process it at their Pittsburgh hospital.

Besides their clinic in Indiana, Mirsa and Patlola are associated with three other hospitals around the Pittsburgh area: East McKeesport Animal Hospital, Pet Health and Wellness Center and Holiday Park Animal Hospital.

When the stem cells were extracted from the fat, they were injected into Robbie’s hips and into his knees as well as injected through an IV central line intravenously so that wherever the body needs it, it will go there, Mirsa said.

“This dog is an adult, 12 years old, 84 years in human years,” he said. “The healing power is slow and cannot heal his own hips and knees because of the wear and tear the body took over his life and these stem cells in the fat they are not active anymore, they go into dormancy. So what we do essentially in simple terms is take the stem cells out, activate them and inject them so we are helping the body in respect to activation and then injecting it into that particular spot so it heals faster. Anywhere we put the stem cells the rebuilding can happen.”

Within a week, Robbie as able to stand up; by the second week he was able to squat; and by the end of the third week he was able to climb stairs, run and walk on ice, Mirsa said. A dog that was unable to run or walk in the house was now running and walking on ice. Mirsa said Robbie was a diabetic and his blood sugar was “out of control,” but after the stem cell treatment the diabetes was under control and the units of insulin he needed per day went down.

“What we had done is undo all the damage that was done throughout his life so far,” he said. “We changed his joints from a 12-year-old dog to a 2-year-old dog.”

They have also performed this procedure on a dog that had a spine condition called degenerative myelopathy to strengthen the muscles near the spine.

“We thought of doing this two years ago, but it was too expensive to perform and offer to people, but with the help of a company the cost of the procedure has dropped considerably,” Mirsa said. “We started doing this about five to six months back and because we just started, I wanted this treatment to be conveyed to everyone because many people do not know about this,” he said.

Mirsa said he sees many people put down dogs because they don’t want them to suffer when they are unable to perform basic functions, “but if we are able to do something to help, then that’s great,” he said.

PHOTO: Dr. Yogi Mirsa, of Indian Springs Veterinary Clinic, recently examined a beagle mix named Leia, with the help of Candice Presto, a certified veterinary technician. (Teri Enciso/Gazette photo)

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