Rosemarie Williams, DVM, owner of The Sound Cat Veterinary Hospital in Wilmington, N.C., introduced stem cell therapy to her feline-only practice in April and says preliminary results look promising.
Dr. Williams is studying the effects of adipose-derived stem cell therapy on chronic inflammatory bowel disease and chronic inflammatory kidney disease in cats.
Before Williams’ clinical trial, stem cell therapy had been primarily used in canine and equine osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, ligament and cartilage injuries.
“About 3 to 5 percent of cats age 5 and older suffer from IBD and at least 30 percent of senior cats have some level of kidney disease,” Williams says. “I’m hopeful this therapy can minimize clinical symptoms and even eliminate disease in some cases. There’s much about the therapy’s effect on cats that is still unknown. I’ve treated six cats with IBD and symptoms have regressed. I hope to treat at least 50 within a year-long timeframe.
“All the cats that underwent treatment are gaining weight, indicating that their intestinal tracts are absorbing nutrients more efficiently,” she added.
Williams injects stem cells harvested from the cats’ adipose tissue intravenously. In dogs, the tissue is usually administered directly into muscles and joints damaged by injury, disease or degeneration.
Williams uses MediVet America’s in-house adipose stem cell procedure kit along with conventional therapy. She says since the therapy is new, clinical trials such as her year-long study are necessary to show other veterinarians areas in which the therapy might be beneficial.
Williams’ protocol entails continuing the same conventional treatment methods along with a one-time stem-cell injection.
“We don’t know yet how frequently the stem-cells will need to be administered to maintain effectiveness,” Williams says. “Currently, patients who received the therapy come in monthly for an exam. At the end of the trial, I’ll be able to report the success rate experienced with my patients using the therapy.”
Williams says it’s a tough sell in the down economy for clients to approve a largely experimental procedure for their pets, but those who have approved trying the therapy, have been happy with the results. Patients will be followed for the duration of the year-long trial.
Williams hopes to conduct the procedure on about 50 cats over the next year.