Canine Comparative Orthopedics and Cellular Therapeutics Laboratory
Culture of canine Multipotent
Stromal Cells (MSCs) in the Comparative Orthopedics & Cellular
Therapeutics Lab. Ms. Shannon Huggins prepares culture
dishes containing canine MSCs for media exchange in the lab’s
biological safety cabinet (tissue culture hood).
The goal of the Comparative Orthopedics and Cellular
Therapeutics Laboratory is to advance the field of canine
orthopedics and stem cell therapy for the mutual benefit of
veterinary and human orthopedic patients. Founded in 2010, the lab
is located in the Veterinary Medical Research Building adjacent to
the Small Animal Hospital. The lab provides isolation and expansion
of canine adult stem cells (also
referred to as Multipotent Stromal Cells or MSCs) for treatment of
orthopedic disorders in patients admitted to the Veterinary Medical
Teaching Hospital. Additionally, the lab is active in the research
fields of clinical orthopedics, biomechanics, and stem cell
Saunders, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVS is the laboratory director
and is an Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery in the
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. Dr. Saunders is one
of the faculty surgeons on the
Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery Service. His clinical interests
include arthroscopy, total joint replacement, advanced diagnosis
and treatment of limb deformities, development of improved
treatment options for osteochondrosis, and use of MSCs for
treatment of orthopedic disorders in dogs.
Ongoing basic science projects include:
- Growth-factor and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) mediated
invasion and differentiation of canine stem cells or bone tumor
cells in three-dimensional (3D) collagen matrices
- Profiling cellular responses of stem cells to inflammatory
wound or osteoarthritis environments
- Molecular regulation and modulation of MSC osteogenic
- Development of 3D cell scaffolds for tissue engineering.
Microscopic evaluation of canine
Multipotent Stromal Cells (MSCs) in the Comparative Orthopedics
& Cellular Therapeutics Lab. Robert Bearden (graduate
student) and Shelby Gasson (veterinary summer research student)
evaluate a culture of canine MSCs using phase contrast microscopy
and digital photography.
Ongoing clinical projects include:
- Development of improved isolation and characterization
techniques for canine MSCs
- Comparison of growth and differentiation of bone marrow, fat,
synovium, and other tissue-derived MSCs
- Use of MSCs in treatment of non-healing fractures,
osteoarthritis, meniscal injury, and cartilage loss
- The role of limb alignment in the development and treatment of
elbow dysplasia in dogs
- Validation and effect of IRAP II for treatment of
osteoarthritis in dogs.
The lab contributes to the education of veterinary students,
graduate students, interns, and residents through the basic science
projects, clinical projects, and clinical services described above.
A number of important collaborations have been developed between
the Comparative Orthopedics and Cellular Therapeutics Lab and other
scientists within the Texas A&M System, as well as with
veterinary surgeons and research scientists throughout the U.S. and
Canada. The lab is funded by both intramural and extramural funding
sources, and through gifts to the
Bone & Joint Fund , a Texas A&M Foundation fund
established to support the Small Animal Orthopedic Surgery
Service’s clinical and research efforts. For additional questions
regarding the lab’s mission or ongoing research, please contact us
via email or by
phone at (979) 845-2351.
Biomechanical testing of two
fracture fixation systems.
Evaluation of LC-DCP/rod and CRIF/rod systems for use in canine
fracture patients in collaboration with Dr. Michael Moreno, Texas
A&M University Dept. of Mechanical Engineering.
Panel A: Photograph of a four-point-bend testing apparatus.
Panel B: Load-deformation curve generated from the four-point-bend
method shown in panel A. Both constructs exhibit similar stiffness
in response to bending loads.
Invasion of canine Multipotent
Stromal Cells (MSCs) in three-dimensional (3D) collagen invasion
Identifying MSCs with superior homing and invasion abilities may
serve as a useful in vitro assay when screening MSCs for clinical
use. In addition, these assays allow stem cell biologists to study
the molecular mechanisms involved in this process.
Panel A: MSCs are seeded on the surface of a 3D collagen gel (blue
background, out of focus). In response to certain growth-factors,
MSCs invade the gel employing integrins, MMPs, cytoskeletal
reorganization, and cell signaling in the process (bar =
Panel B: The gel from Panel A is sectioned and examined from a
side-view. Open arrow denotes starting monolayer of MSCs. Invading
MSCs are more clearly visible within the gel using this view (bar =
Determining standing limb
alignment values in a cohort of healthy Labrador
We believe that the overall alignment of the bones and joints of
the front limb may play a role in development of elbow dysplasia, a
debilitating joint disease common in large and giant breed dogs.
Moreover, diagnosis and treatment of abnormal limb alignment may
provide additional treatment options for this disease.
Panel A: Illustration of the technique used to determine standing
limb alignment in dogs.
Panel B: Radiograph (x-ray) illustrating the mechanical axis of
the humerus (upper arm), joint reference line of the elbow, and
resulting joint reference angle of the elbow (mLDHA). These
techniques were used to report twelve normal limb alignment values
in a cohort of healthy Labrador Retrievers.