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New drug trial heals dogs of arthritis

Posted at 10:22 AM, Sep 18, 2017

Watching your dog get old is hard. You see the pain in their eyes when they can't get into the car or run after the ball.

Veterinarians across the U.S. say it's not just old age, but arthritis that's causing your dog pain, and a new drug trial is working to make your furry companion feel better.

One of the clinics testing the new drug is Paradise Animal Hospital in Catonsville, Maryland. 

Dr. Cheryl Burke says she to qualify for the trial, dogs have to have obvious signs of arthritis and cannot have cancer. At the clinic, they conduct blood tests, x-rays and a physical exam.

Hannah, a blonde chow mix, came in for the procedure.

"She has a lot of trouble getting up and when she goes to walk up and down the stairs, she stares, like can I do this? Can I do this? Breaks my heart when I see that," Hannah's mom, Donna Foster said.

Foster found out from a friend this clinic was conducting the trial and thought she'd take a chance, "I mean she's fourteen years old and basically she's really healthy so if I can keep her for another 20 years, I know that's not realistic but I will and I want her to have a quality of life."

The trial was created in San Diego, by Animal Cell Therapies, and uses canine stem cells to grow cartilage in the joint, so the dog has more cushion when he/she walks or runs.

"Stem cells are the body's primitive precursor cells and we all have them, and when we're born, there's a huge population of them in our umbilical cord," Dr. Burke said.

The stem cells adapt to the needs around them, so they could turn cancerous, something Dr. Burke and pet parents don't want. That's why dogs go through several tests (for free) before they can qualify.

The clinic is doing the entire trial for free, to get FDA approval, so other pet parents can one day buy the drug.

Part of the study requires that the test be double blind, meaning no one, even Dr. Burke can see which drug is given to the dog.

Each dog undergoes the same procedure. Then pet parents come back for a one month, three month and six month check up to see how the dog is progressing.

If the study is approved any dog who didn't get the drug will get it for free.

"If it's approved, it could be a few years, before it's on the market but it could be wonderful," Dr. Burke said.

There is no ballpark figure as to how much the drug may cost, but dog lovers are hopeful it could help their furry friend have a longer, better life.