WALKER (WWJ/AP) – Stem cells could help an old dog learn new tricks.

A veterinarian in the Grand Rapids area performed stem cell therapy Tuesday on a dog named Boris, a $1,500 treatment that could relieve discomfort in the 11-year-old’s arthritic hips and legs.

“It’s a lot of money, no doubt about it,” owner Paul Bultinck told The Grand Rapids Press. “But the dogs become one of your family. If you can swing it, you do. A loved one in your family certainly takes a very high priority.”

James Kelley says it’s the first time he’s performed it on a dog at his Walker clinic after investing more than $10,000 in equipment and materials to process the stem cells.

Kelley used an enzyme to remove stem cells from a portion of Boris’ fat. The cells were mixed with plasma from a blood sample and injected into hip and knee joints. Advocates say the cells help the animal’s body heal.

“The studies go out three years now, and the animals, after three years, are OK,” said Kelley, who believes Boris could start feeling better in two months.

The dog, an 80-pound Chow mix, doesn’t run and jump like he did in his younger years. He already is given anti-inflammatory medication and undergoes soft-tissue laser therapy every three weeks. If the stem-cell procedure works, those treatments may become unnecessary. More stem cells can be frozen for future use.

“I’m very optimistic about it,” Bultinck said. “I hope this will help his hip.”

Boris isn’t the only dog in the family getting special attention. His sister, Natasha, is scheduled to undergo the same treatment next week. She has had arthritis even longer and had hip surgery about five years ago.

Kelley said the stem-cell therapy is being tested for other medical conditions, including diabetes, bowel disease and allergic skin reactions.

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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