Stem Cells Help Mans Best Friend

Monday, September 5, 2011 - 9:16am

Revolutionary treatment helped heal badly burned dog.

A new breakthrough in stem cell research is credited with saving an injured dog's life.

Bernie -- as he was newly named -- suffered severe third degree burns after spending ten hours on a rooftop in the scorching sun, earlier this summer.

"The were severe, third degree burns -- some of the worst burn that I've seen in 25 years of veterinary medicine," said Doctor Boyd Wagner.

When police found Bernie, he had burns on his back, chest and, most severely, on his feet.

Bernie was taken to Dr. Wagner, who decided to try a first-of-its kind stem cell treatment -- a decision unusual for a dog with injuries as bad as Bernie's.

"If a dog comes in severely injured the humane thing to do is euthanize it. Had it not been for doctor Wagner taking a look at Bernie and thinking about doing the stem cells and increasing the time that the healing took place, Bernie probably would have been euthanized," said Barrie Pease from Pennsylvania's Animal Rescue League of Berks County.

Because animal embryonic stem cells have the ability to turn themselves into other types of cells, Dr. Wagner injected them into Bernie's paws to form new tissue.

The results left him stunned.

"I would have thought we'd get a lot of granulation tissue, a lot of scar tissue being deposited and he'd have real deformed feet and pads. What we're seeing right now is pads are being formed almost like they were originally," he said.

It's been four weeks since the treatments started and Bernie's paws are already 90 percent healed.

Dr. Wagner does acknowledge that there is no way to know the exact role the stem cells played in Bernie's healing process.

Bernie will always have scars on his back from the burns, but within two weeks Dr. Wagner hopes Bernie will be walking completely normal again.

Bernie is looking for a home and is up for adoption now.

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