Thursday, March 31, 2016

Regenerative Veterinary Medicine: Platelet Therapy

by Dr. Jeff Schaffer, DVM

The body has an amazing capacity to heal itself. Regenerative medicine describes a group of processes that harness that natural ability of the body and enhances or concentrates it.

Platelet therapy (also referred to as Platelet Rich Plasma or PRP)

When the body becomes injured, a natural healing process occurs to repair the damaged tissue. 

The body naturally signals platelets and other components in the blood supply to migrate to the site of injury. Under normal conditions, these platelets release a variety of factors that initiate and subsequently promote healing. Platelets are released into circulation where they play a prominent role in blood clotting (hemostasis).

Platelets also contain a variety of growth factors that enhance wound healing and induce tissue regeneration. 

These growth factors, include platelet-derived growth factor, transforming growth factor beta, fibroblast growth factor, insulin-like growth factor 1, epithelial growth factor and vascular endothelial growth factor.

Platelet therapy harnesses and concentrates these platelets to be precisely introduced to the injury site in an injectable form. 

The implantation of these platelets from a small amount of the patient's own blood has the potential to enhance the body's capacity for healing.

The platelets are taken from the injured animal, concentrated and injected into, or applied to the animal from which the sample was originally collected to treat a specific injury.

That's why this cell therapy is referred to as “autologous” because the patient is being treated with a product derived from his or her own body.

Autologous platelet therapies offer low risk , but platelet therapies from a donor patient are prone to have high risk factors. 

Even if the donor is a sibling or parent of the recipient the chance for reaction is high. As a veterinarian I would not recommend using a platelet  therapy from a donor patient.

Injecting platelets into injured tissue reawakens the body's healing capacity. 

Platelets would normally migrate to the location of acute trauma and stimulate healing on their own, but tendons and ligaments, joint capsules and cartilage have a very poor blood supply which limits platelet migration to them.

Injecting the platelets directly into the affected area attracts other healing cells and stimulates local tissue repair.

When platelets are injected, they attach to injured collagen fibers and then release healing proteins called growth factors that initiate and activate healing. In short, they are the body's response to trauma.

Platelet-derived growth factors offer the following medical benefits:
  • Stem Cell Attractant: PRP attracts stem cells to an injury to optimize the healing process;
  • Vascular growth factors stimulate new blood vessels;
  • Epithelial growth factors stimulate new tissue;
  • Transforming growth factors stimulate ligament, tendon, cartilage and joint capsule healing;
  • Cellular adhesion molecules create a structural matrix for new connective tissue, bone, and epithelial cells.

Platelet therapy is used to treat various medical  conditions.

Platelet therapy is a proven and effective option for treating osteoarthritis* (V-PET JAVMA Study), wounds, and tendon and ligament injuries, for both acute and chronic cases.

This easy, minimally invasive, same day procedure promotes healing and reduces pain. 

It can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, depending on your animal’s needs.

There are many platelet therapy options available, so evaluating or choosing a system can sometimes be daunting.

The most important things to look for are: 
  • is it validated for the species being treated and 
  • is the platelet concentration adequate.

In some cases using a filtration system, such as the V-PETTM,  is gentler on the platelets and will prevent the platelets from being opened or activated before they are injected into the injured area.

It is only when the platelets come in contact with the site of injury that they become activated, releasing their growth factors.

Platelet Therapy can be used in different clinical conditions with different outcome goals, including hemostasis, angiogenesis or functional recovery in musculoskeletal conditions. 

So far, thousands of patients have benefited from Platelet therapy and the acceptance of platelet therapy  into vet medicine has been determined by the safety profile, ease of use, and effectiveness.


Dr. Jeffrey Schaffer, DVM obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Perugia. He has practiced veterinary medicine at Nassau-Suffolk Vet Hospital, several emergency veterinary hospitals and animal shelters. He also has worked as an adjunct professor in medical and biological subjects at numerous colleges and universities in New York. He is the author of a range of published studies and he has established relationships with opinion leaders in medical, veterinary research and clinical practice. He now works at VetStem Biopharma.

VetStem Biopharma has been providing regenerative therapies since 2004. Thousands of animals have been treated for arthritis and/or tendon and ligament injuries, many of which were not responding to other treatment methods.

Related articles:
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)

Further reading:
A randomized controlled trial of the efficacy of autologous platelet therapy for the treatment of osteoarthritis in dogs 
The use of autologous PRP gel as an aid in the management of acute trauma wounds
Patellar tendon healing with platelet-rich plasma: a prospective randomized controlled trial 

Further listening:
Platelet Therapy on Pet Life Radio

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