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Translating stem cell therapies: The role of companion animals in regenerative medicine


  • Susan W. Volk VMD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Clinical Studies and Animal Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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  • Christine Theoret DMV, PhD

    1. Department of Veterinary Biomedicine, University of Montreal, Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada
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Reprint requests:

Dr. S. W. Volk, Small Animal Surgery, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, 312 Hill Pavilion, 380 S. University Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19104-4539.

Tel: +1 215 898 0635;

Fax: +1 215 746 2295;



Veterinarians and veterinary medicine have been integral to the development of stem cell therapies. The contributions of large animal experimental models to the development and refinement of modern hematopoietic stem cell transplantation were noted nearly five decades ago. More recent advances in adult stem cell/regenerative cell therapies continue to expand knowledge of the basic biology and clinical applications of stem cells. A relatively liberal legal and ethical regulation of stem cell research in veterinary medicine has facilitated the development and in some instances clinical translation of a variety of cell-based therapies involving hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells, as well as other adult regenerative cells and recently embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. In fact, many of the pioneering developments in these fields of stem cell research have been achieved through collaborations of veterinary and human scientists. This review aims to provide an overview of the contribution of large animal veterinary models in advancing stem cell therapies for both human and clinical veterinary applications. Moreover, in the context of the “One Health Initiative,” the role veterinary patients may play in the future evolution of stem cell therapies for both human and animal patients will be explored.