9 Oct 2011

Stem cell therapy used to treat arthritis in dogs

7:43 am on 9 October 2011

Australian researchers hope the successful use of stem cells to relieve arthritis in dogs could be applied to humans.

Vets in Melbourne have been injecting stem cells from donor dogs into the joints of other arthritic canines.

Melbourne vet Ray Ferguson was at first sceptical of the benefits of canine stem cell treatment, but has now treated about 40 dogs.

Preliminary trials involved dogs with skin disease and joint disease being injected with stem cells as well, but Mr Ferguson said the arthritic dogs responded best of all.

Professor Richard Boyd from Monash University says about 8000 dogs have been helped by the treatment and work on the animals is helping researchers understand the effect similar treatment would have on humans.

"Their lives are constrained into 10 or 15 years and that reflects a human going from up to 70 or 80 years," he told the ABC.

"So the conditions which are generative which a dog gets in 10 years like arthritic hips and joints is very similar to what ageing humans get."

Professor Boyd says safety studies would need to be carried out, ethical requirements met and financial backing obtained before such treatment could be used for people.