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10 Nov, 2007 17:12

Ukraine vets pioneer stem cell cure for dogs

Veterinary scientists in Ukraine are claiming a medical breakthrough. For the first time ever, they've used stem cells extracted from canine liver to cure diseases in dogs.

It took researchers from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov three years to develop the treatment. The breakthrough gives sick dogs who are not responding to traditional treatments a chance to recover. 

The Head of the Animal Diseases Laboratory in Kharkov, Nikolay Kelebirda, says the drug could soon be available.

“The medicine has been tested and is now ready for licensing in Ukraine”, he said.

The ingredients are being kept secret, and inventors have yet to come up with a name for the new wonder medicine.

It's stored in test tubes at minus 196 degrees before being mixed with saline solution.  It's then injected into the animal's bloodstream. 

During trials, forty dogs suffering from a range of serious diseases were given the drug. Eighty per cent survived. The stem cell treatment failed only in cases of severe poisoning.

Researchers say they were surprised at how well the treatment worked. In one instance a dog dying from old age showed improved organ function. 

Manya was the first dog ever to receive the treatment. She fell ill and her owners tried all traditional medicine before they resorted to stem cells.

“We had no chance – either the dog dies or we try the stem cell test drug. We decided to go with it,” Manya’s owner said.

Manya improved on the third day. She hasn't been ill since and last summer she had four healthy puppies.

Encouraged by their success, the vets want to expand their stem cell experiments to other animals. Cats and horses are next in line.