Chimp with torn ACL receives stem cell treatment

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - At the Save the Chimps facility in St. Lucie County, there's usually a lot of noise, but one of the residents is very quiet today. Sedated in fact.

Inside the vet-mobile is Angie.  She's 25 and has a torn ACL.

"With chimps we don't want to do a lot of surgical work, put hardware in their knee, they tend to pull out that sort of thing," said Save The Chimps Vet Dr. Linda Gregard.

About 20 miles away, hope is being mixed in a centrifuge.  In two large clear tubes is Angie's own tissue. 

Dr. Darrell Nazareth with the Florida Veterinary League in Vero Beach says the process allows them to extract stem cells from the tissue.  Dr. Nazareth has had success in more than a dozen dogs with arthritis, but this will be his first chimp.  He says the ethical concerns over stem cell use does not apply here.

"We're not using embryonic stem cells, we're using the patient's own tissue," said Dr. Nazareth.

The company behind the technology says by harnessing the body's own ability to heal itself, this could find wider use in humans.

 "Given substances between chimps and humans, great case to follow closely and get as much data as we can," said Jason Griffeth with Stemlogix.

An hour later, Dr. Nazareth is at the Save the Chimps facility, injecting 2 billion stem cells into Angie's knee.  Doctors hope to find out in the next two to three weeks how successful the stem cell therapy treatment was. 

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