UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is looking for participants for two important clinical trials for dogs with spine problems. If you live near Northern California, you are going to want to pay close attention to both of these studies.
The first clinical trial is about Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in Poodles. And the second is seeking puppies who were born with Spina Bifida. Both studies will be using cutting edge science to treat these spine problems.
The first trial: Intervertebral Disc Disease in Poodles
When you think about dogs with IVDD, I bet your thoughts don’t automatically turn to Poodles. But Poodles might be the breed that gives researchers key answers about a genetic cause for the most common form of Intervertebral Disc Disease.
Here’s the hypothesis. There is Type 1 and Type 2 IVDD. Type 1 is the most common. It causes herniated discs, severe pain and neurological problems that requires immediate surgery. Dogs with this form of IVDD have disc material in their spinal cord and cartilage that dries out faster and at an earlier age. The condition is called chondrodystrophy (CDDY) and recently researchers found a genetic correlation for it.
The puzzling part of the problem is that not all dogs confirmed to have CDDY suffer from a herniated disc during their lifetime. So researchers are looking at additional factors that increase the risk for IVDD in some breeds.
Why Poodles are so important
CDDY is fixed in some breeds, such as Dachshunds and Beagles. That means the level of CDDY stays the same and dogs are likely to develop Type 1 IVDD.
In Poodles the levels and outcome vary. Researchers are going to try to determine if Poodles have less genetic copies of CDDY and if that might put them at a lower level of risk.
How to apply
The clinical trial is looking for Poodles who have received corrective surgery for IVDD. The only procedure for the clinical trial will be a blood sample for DNA purposes.
Your private veterinarian will be asked to collect and submit the blood sample and necessary documentation. The good news is that you don’t have to live close by to participate.
The second trial: Stem Cell-based Treatment of Spina Bifida in English Bulldogs
Spina bifida (SB) is prevalent in English bulldogs. It is a malformation of the spinal cord that occurs during pregnancy. Dogs born with SB have mobility problems that range from having trouble walking to being unable to walk on their own at all. Most are also incontinent.
A majority of these puppies are euthanized at a young age due to their disabilities.
The purpose of the study is to assess how well stem cell therapy works for SB dogs and compare the effects against surgery to repair the spine. The good news with this study is that every participant will get corrective surgery and hopefully walk better.
How to apply
Participants need to be English bulldogs with Spina bifida that are:
- Less than 9 weeks old
- Have clinical signs of SB
- Have x-rays that confirm the presence of Spina bifida in the lower lumbar area of the spine
- Are deemed healthy in all other respects
Puppies will undergo the following procedures:
A physical exam, lab work, a video recording of their gait and an assessment of their incontinence will be done for each puppy. There will also be X-rays of the spinal cord, an MRI and spinal tap and testing of their nerves. These will be done under anesthesia at UC Davis.
Puppies will then be divided into 3 groups to receive the following therapy.
- Group 1 will receive surgery to repair the SB defect
- Group 2 will have a “gel matrix” implanted into the SB defect before the end of surgery.
- Group 3 will have a gel matrix of stem cells implanted into the SB defect before the end of surgery.
If you are interested in this clinical trial contact: Dr. Beverly K. Sturges via email ([email protected]) or phone (530-752-7545 or 530-752-1393).
There will also be follow up exams at 6 months and again at 12 months after surgery.
One final note
If you enroll your dog in either of these clinical trials for dogs with spine problems, I would love to do a follow up story about your experience. Both clinical trials promise to bring much needed answers to two very serious health problems for dogs.