The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has entered into a research agreement with the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. They signed a memorandum of understanding to form the Virginia Tech/Wake Forest Center for Veterinary Regenerative Medicine (CVRM).
The veterinary college and the institute for regenerative medicine, both leaders in their fields, will engage in ongoing collaborations in translational research in regenerative medicine through the new center. The agreement facilitates the application of cutting-edge regenerative treatments to both human and animal patients.
“Translational research” focuses on turning the biological discoveries of scientists and clinical researchers into innovative treatments for the benefit of patients. “Regenerative medicine” specifically refers to the creation of tissues and organs in the laboratory that can be used to repair or replace damaged tissues in living patients and the use of cell therapies to restore the function or organs and tissues. As part of the collaboration, clients at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital may have the option to enter their pets into clinical trials, giving them access to cutting edge technology unavailable elsewhere.
The agreement will enable the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine to evaluate new regenerative medicine techniques in spontaneously occurring animal diseases that can be models for human disease. This collaboration with the veterinary college will allow researchers at Wake Forest to more quickly assess the efficacy of regenerative treatments to remedy clinical conditions and facilitate their application to human medicine.
Researchers at the veterinary college believe the agreement represents a win-win for both animals and humans. “The CVRM is a tremendous opportunity to provide new medical alternatives for animals, including loved household pets, while generating scientific knowledge that can save and transform human lives,” says Roger Avery, senior associate dean of research and graduate studies at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.
Current research focuses on chronic kidney disease in cats, which are being treated in an effort to induce kidney regeneration and restore renal function. Additionally, a stem cell approach is being applied to dogs with spay-induced induced incontinence, a reoccurring problem in spayed female dogs.
Muscle stem cells, placed into the neck of the dog’s bladder, may help to strengthen the bladder muscle and cure the condition. Other collaborative projects including canine and bovine induced pluripotentent cells, rapid pathogen detection, wound healing in horses, and canine cardiomyopathy are in start-up mode.
Willard H. Eyestone, research assistant professor of reproductive biology and biotechnology at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, will act as lead faculty member at the veterinary college and the liaison to Wake Forest in the collaboration. Dr. J. Koudy Williams, professor of pathology and surgical sciences at Wake Forest, will serve as the lead faculty member from the institute.