Cat Health News: Stem Cell Therapy

CAT FANCY covers the latest in cat health news, including advances in stem cell therapy for felines.

By Elaine Wexler-Mitchell

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Napoleon Kitten
Stem cells are a unique set of unspecialized cells with the ability to divide, renew themselves and be induced to become specific cells. They can help cats overcome chronic disease.
Stem Cell Therapy Sprouts New Hope
Stem cells have the potential to treat and cure debilitating diseases, such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and chronic kidney disease. Clinical responses have shown some promising results, but results are mixed. More investigational research is still needed.

Stem cells can be derived from a number of adult tissues, but the most practical method is to collect fat samples from the cat in need of treatment and then send the samples to a stem cell laboratory for enrichment and enhancement. The processed samples return rich in stem cells and are injected into the same cat to treat disease. Stem cells serve as a repair system for the body because they have the potential to develop into cells that can help heal an arthritic joint or decrease inflammation in a kidney. Veterinarians in private practice are starting to offer stem cell therapy.

Jessica M. Quimby, DVM, a veterinarian at the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University, has been researching the use of stem cells in cats with chronic kidney disease. "If these cells will decrease inflammation within the kidney, which leads to scarring, then perhaps we can slow down the progression of the disease,” she says. Quimby is currently investigating the applications and benefits of fat-derived stem cells delivered by intravenous injection to feline patients with chronic kidney disease. Her research is paving the way for a practical application that could benefit our beloved felines.

Read more CAT FANCY cat health news >>

Feline-Friendly Cyclosporine Administration
Cyclosporine is a drug that is used to suppress the immune system by hindering the activity of white blood cells called T cells. A primary use in felines and humans is preventing transplant recipients from rejecting donated organs in procedures such as kidney transplants. The drug is also used to treat a number of conditions that are caused by an overactive immune system, such as autoimmune or allergic skin disease, inflammation of the gums and mucous membranes (stomatitis), poorly controlled asthma and inflammatory bowel disease.

Cyclosporine must be used cautiously in patients with liver or kidney disease. Feline patients must test negative for the feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency viruses due to the drug’s immunosuppressive effects. The most common side effect is vomiting, which is uncommon at usual doses.

Cyclosporine was originally available as a veterinary capsule called Atopica, that was FDA-approved for use in dogs. Administrating capsules to cats can be challenging, so it might be a relief for cat parents that Novartis has recently introduced FDA-approved Atopica for Cats (cyclosporine oral solution, USP) MODIFIED. The solution is drawn up in a dosing syringe and the liquid medication is delivered orally. Most cats readily accept this mode of administration.

Research by doctors at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine recently determined that subcutaneous (under the skin) injections of cyclosporine were a reliable and safe way to administer the drug to cats. Any long-term oral medication can be a struggle with some cats, so a subcutaneous injection might be a better solution in these cases. This alternate route of administration shows promise as an option for cats in the future.
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