Have Stem Cells Gone to the Dogs?

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In a manner of speaking, yes.  A story in this past Sunday’s Chicago Tribune described a California company’s use of stem cells to treat a variety of pet ailments. For $3,000, VetStem, a California biotech company, will process a sample of ordinary fat from your ailing pet (collected by your veterinarian) and return a therapy enriched in the animal's own stem cells. These cells are then injected into the site of injury – an injured leg, hip joint, or muscle.

What I find interesting (and a bit concerning) is that the company apparently never had to demonstrate to an independent regulatory body (e.g. the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration) that its stem cell treatment actually works and is safe. It’s not that they skirted the law; it’s because the FDA is in an awkward place to regulate therapies derived from the animal itself.

Yes, the company cites many pleased pet owners and their own “proprietary data” as evidence for success. I have no real reason to doubt them. But given that many pet owners treat their companions as no less than small children, it would seem prudent to at least ask for proof that consumers are not being duped and their pets are not at risk.

Maintaining public confidence in the "trustworthiness" of medical science, regardless of animal or human, is especially importat at a time when the early data on human stem cell trials is starting to come out.

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Comments

I think its wrong that this doesn't have to be verified by the FDA. If it isn't these people could be scamming customers.

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