Treating Dogs With Spina Bifida Might Help With Treating Humans

Researchers at UC-Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital look to utilize dogs and cats to help find rare disease treatments, reported The Daily Beast.

Recently, two bulldogs, Darla and Spanky, with spina bifida were taken to UC Davis to hopefully be treated for their disease and lead the researchers in the right direction to find success with humans.

Spina bifida is a rare birth defect that has severe effects. The disease often develops early in animals and during human pregnancies. When the neural tube hosting an embryo is unsuccessful within 28 days of the animal or human’s gestation, a hole in the spine is then developed. When babies experience this disease, many face a multitude of complications upon birth, some with hydrocephalus, clubbed feet, or Arnold Chiari malformation. For puppies that are diagnosed, they often face paralyzation in their hind-legs. To learn more about spina bifida, click here.

When the two bulldogs were born they couldn’t even wag their tails. They were constantly limping and falling off balance. Puppies that experience spina bifida are usually put to sleep upon birth. Yet, this time around the pups were taken to the Veterinary Institute for Regenerative Cures to hopefully receive a successful, revolutionary treatment.

The UC Davis team is experimenting with stem cell treatments. They plan to test it out with puppies’ first and hope to regenerate their failing nerves, and hopefully give them back some control over their disabled legs, as well as their bladder. The team had previously used a similar treatment on sheep and were successfully able to heal injured spinal cords. They hope to be successful with the two bulldogs.

The team, lead by Dr. Dori Borjesson, hopes to continue to find success in animals that can lead to clinical trials with humans in the near future. Sometimes the findings translate well to humans, but often they do not. Yet, they cannot know until they try. They soon will seek out FDA approval with hopes to further the development of their treatments for humans.

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