August 01, 2011

Executive Board

 Stem cell policy receives updates

Posted July 13, 2011

The Executive Board approved revisions to the AVMA policy on stem cells that reflect the changing face of stem cell research and stem cell–based therapies.

The policy on "Pluripotent stem cells" now replaces the policy on "Stem cells." The most substantial changes to the policy were the additions of these passages:

  • The AVMA fully supports and encourages the ethical study and use of animal stem cells, including embryonic, induced pluripotent, and adult, as well as regenerative therapies achieved through directed transdifferentiation of somatic cells to defined precursors. Such studies, performed under the rigorous guidelines of the Animal Welfare Act, have enormous promise for the development of safe and effective cell-based therapies for the benefit of animal and human health.
  • The AVMA endorses the use of pluripotent stem cells in pre-clinical models of animal and human diseases. Such studies may minimize religious or political constraints associated with the use of human embryonic stem cells and facilitate critical advances in the use of pluripotent stem cells in the treatment of disease or injury common to humans and animals such as spinal injury or diabetes. 
Large animal technician Fred Librach in the UC-Davis Regenerative Medicine Laboratory
Large animal technician Fred Librach places
equine blood samples in a centrifuge as
part of the stem cell isolation process
in the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory
at the University of California-Davis
School of Veterinary Medicine.
(Courtesy of UC-Davis SVM)

The Council on Research first developed the stem cell policy in 2005. Since that time, continued research has expanded the repertoire of stem cell types available, which, in turn, has led to an increase in the clinical use of autologous pluripotent adult stem cells to treat a number of degenerative diseases, primarily in dogs and horses, according to background materials.

The council reviewed the policy at its March meeting as part of the five-year review directive. The COR forwarded the revised policy to the Council on Biologic and Therapeutic Agents for its input. That's because, although the use of autologous pluripotent adult stem cells is not regulated by the Department of Agriculture or the Food and Drug Administration, these types of stem cell can still be considered drugs or therapeutic agents.

In addition, the COR sought input from the Council on Veterinary Service, because stem cells are becoming more widely used to deliver veterinary services in terms of treating degenerative diseases in some animals.

To view the complete statement on stem cells, click he​re.