Medical Minute 2-3: Medicine Helping Dogs and Humans

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

Another day, another workout for 5-year-old Caden. Of course, everything's taken care of when you're Chris Mattson's dog.

"And I'd say, it took me about five minutes to fall in love with the Doberman breed," said Chris Mattson, Doberman Owner.

Those five minutes turned into five years just like that. But during all those good times, Chris knew he'd have to face reality sooner or later. The worry: Dilated cardio-myopathy, or DCM. It's a heart muscle disease that affects 50-percent of dobermans - more than any other breed. While a diagnosis in humans leads to a transplant, dobermans are usually dead within six months.

"They all eventually enter a phase where they go into congestive heart failure," said Dr. Amara Estrada.

So Doctor Amara Estrada with the University of Florida has embarked on a unique way to help. By using stem cells from other dogs, doctors are hoping to grow new heart muscle in dobermans.

"So I can give donor cells from another dog, doesn't even have to be a Doberman, and they won't undergo immune rejection," said Amara Estrada, DVM University of Florida Assoc. Prof. of Small Animal Sciences Gainesville, FL,

So far, these stem cells have repaired some heart pump function in animals.

While saving dobermans is Doctor Estrada's focus now, humans may soon benefit from her work, too.

"It's possible that this could be a translational model - so, a model for human disease," said Amara Estrada, D.V.M.

That means the very science that may save Caden just may save his master down the line.

"If I'm coming back at six months, if I'm coming back at 12-months, 18-month, yeah buddy, he's alive," said Chris Mattson.

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