Stem Cell Treatments for Zoo Animals Hold Promise for Humans


Stem cells made from fat are showing results in animals, making researchers hopeful they can one day replicate the success in humans.

“We just extract them, concentrate them, wash them and in the same setting readminster them. Inject them in your heart or your knees, wherever you need them,” Dr. Eckhard Alt told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston after the treatment was used on an arthritic pig at the Houston Zoon.

Alt works for Ingeron, a Houston-based company that is pioneering new methods of cell therapy. The company’s methods have saved a pot belly pig, a Bengal tiger and a golden retriever, to name a few.

Remley, a portly Asian pig who is a fan favorite at the Houston Zoo, suffered from severe arthritis until she received a stem cell treatment.

Four weeks later, the plump pig had regained much of the mobility she had lost.

“She’s walking really well,” said Lauren Howard, a Houston zoo veterinarian. “Overall we’re really happy with her progress.”

In Mexico, Ingeron’s stem cells saved a Bengal tiger from euthanasia. The tiger was hit by rubble during a hurricane. His mobility was so bad, he had to scoot on his belly, much like a seal, KTRK-TV reported.

“He’s doing great now,” Alt said. “He’s running around and enjoying life.”

The success stories have scientists hopeful.

German researchers plan to begin human studies in January, using the same procedure for people with osteoarthritis in their knee, and for wounds or bones that won’t heal.