Veterinary and Human Medical Centers Collaborate

Combined approach offers new treatments for dogs with naturally occurring diseases

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The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, signed an agreement in January to form the Virginia Tech/Wake Forest Center for Veterinary Regenerative Medicine (CVRM).

The goal is to facilitate the use of cutting-edge, regenerative (stem cell) treatments for pets and people. Clinical trials performed at the center will provide valuable information concerning the effects of stem-cell therapy. Doctors will be able to evaluate the results as a model for the treatment of similar diseases in humans.

As part of the collaboration, clients at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital may have the option to enter their pets into clinical trials, giving them access to cutting-edge technology unavailable elsewhere.

Current areas of interest for this research include cardiomyopathy and spay-induced incontinence in dogs, chronic kidney disease in cats, and wound healing in horses. Let’s hope they also investigate the use of regenerative stem cell therapy in the treatment of arthritis, where preliminary results seem promising.

There are many potential applications for collaboration between human and veterinary medicine. In March, I wrote about a veterinary surgeon, a veterinary endocrinologist, and a neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles who worked together and developed a new surgical technique for treating pituitary tumors that cause Cushing’s disease in dogs (“New Treatment for Pituitary-Dependent Cushing’s Disease”). In September 2009, I wrote about a treatment for brain tumors that was the result of two comparative oncology specialists working together, one a veterinary surgeon and the other the head of his university’s Neurosurgery Gene Therapy Program (“New Therapy for Brain Cancer”).

I applaud this approach to finding new treatments for pets and people. It is so much better to offer clinical trials for pets with diseases that cannot be effectively treated with today’s methodologies, rather than induce illness in laboratory animals in order to try out new treatments. I hope this center becomes a model for other veterinary schools.

– Mary Straus

For more information:

Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine
www.vetmed.vt.edu/news/regenmed.asp

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Mary Straus has been a regular contributor to Whole Dog Journal since 2006. Mary first became interested in dog training and behavior in the 1980s. In 1997, Mary attended a seminar on wolf behavior at Wolf Park in Indiana. There, she was introduced to clicker training for the first time, and began to consider the question of how we feed our dogs after watching the wolves eat whole deer carcasses. Mary maintains and operates her own site, DogAware.com, which offers information and research on canine nutrition and health. DogAware.com has been created to help make people more "aware" of how to make the best decisions for their dogs. It's designed for people who like to ask questions and understand the reasoning behind decisions, rather than just being told what to do.  Mary has spent years doing research for people whose dogs have health problems, or who just want to learn how to feed them a better diet. Over this time, she has learned a great deal about dog nutrition and health, including the role of diet, supplements and nutraceuticals.  In 2007, she was asked by The Ivy Group to contribute to The Healthy Dog Cookbook. She previously also wrote a column for Dog World.

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