While the practice of using stem cells to treat injuries in animals is not entirely new, veterinarians are now increasingly looking into using human stem cells for preventative medicine as well as an option for treatment.

The Crabapple Knoll Veterinary Clinic in Alpharetta, Georgia, recently used the method to repair an ACL tear in a 7-year-old Labrador, MyFoxAtlanta.com reported.

Emma, who has been raised by Terri and Wayne Carrel since she was a puppy, had injured her ACL and had surgery to repair it.

“As soon as she planted her back foot on the landing, she just yelped like I’ve never heard her yell before and that’s when I realized she was limping extremely bad,” Wayne told MyFoxAtlanta.com. “[The vet] said it looked like someone put a stick of dynamite in her knee and just shattered everything.”

The surgery proved a temporary fix, as Emma soon re-tore the ACL. However, this time, Dr. Joe Gaston at the Crabapple Knoll Veterinary Clinic suggested the Carrel’s try an injection of human stem cells to treat the injury, rather than go through a second surgery.

“The advantage of these [human stem cells], is they’re capable of differentiating into any tissue,” Gaston told MyFoxAtlanta.com. “When you get [stem cells] from [the animals] abdominal fat, they can only differentiate into muscle, fat bone, things like that. They can’t differentiate into everything,” he said.

Emma’s injury responded to treatment, which Gaston said is another benefit of using human stem cells.

“Stem cells, we classify as regenerative medicine. Rather than try to do the repairs ourselves, we let the cells do it,” Gaston told MyFoxAtlanta.com.  

The Carrel’s were so pleased with Emma’s progress that they brought their other 7-year-old lab, Gracie, in for preventative treatment. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and does not require general anesthesia. Gracie was able to walk out of the appointment with Wayne.

Treatment costs around $1,000.

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