Bob Barker donates $250,000 to Save the Chimps sanctuary


Pioneer Founding member
Angie the chimp undergoes revolutionary stem cell treatment
By Janet Begley

FORT PIERCE — A 25-year-old female chimpanzee at the Save-the-Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce may be able to run again, thanks to a revolutionary stem cell treatment performed on Wednesday.

Angie, one of the 271 chimpanzees that live at the 150-acre sanctuary, received the cutting-edge treatment for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee, thanks to its Florida developer, Stemlogix LLC in Weston, and the Florida Veterinary League in Vero Beach.

The procedure, which normally would cost about $2,000, uses an animal's own fat to obtain adult stem cells, which are then injected into the problem area to stimulate growth of healthy cells.

Save-the-Chimps Veterinarian Dr. Linda Gregard handled the stem cell recovery procedures. Under anesthesia, fat was removed from chimp's abdomen Wednesday morning and transported to Dr. Darrell Nazareth at the Florida Veterinary League. Nazareth then isolated stem and regenerative cells from the fat, suspended them in platelet-rich plasma and transported the stem cells back to the sanctuary for the chimp's treatment.

"Hopefully, it stops the inflammation and encourages the injury to heal," said Nazareth, who has performed a similar treatment on 15 dogs and cats from his practice. He estimates that within two to three weeks, improvement will be seen in both the chimp's mobility and pain level.

"She'll have a little spring in her step," said Nazareth. "Since she'll be able to move without as much pain, I think she'll feel happier."

Gregard, who also works part-time for the Florida Veterinary League, said a 25-year-old chimpanzee is considered to be middle-aged, since they generally live to be 50 in captivity. Most of the chimps at the sanctuary have been rescued from research laboratories, entertainment and the pet trade.

"We certainly didn't want her to be on medication for the rest of her life," said Gregard. "And if it works for Angie, it might be something we would pursue for some of the other animals at the sanctuary."

Stemlogix Chief Operating Officer Jason Griffeth was at the sanctuary Wednesday for the procedure and said it was the first time his process has been used for a chimpanzee.

"Up until now, it's been mostly done on dogs and horses," said Griffeth. But Stemlogix just signed a deal with Butler Schein Animal Health to distribute its therapies to 26,000 veterinary clinics across the county.

"It will be much more widespread," Griffeth said.

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Animals have more rights

I know with every new medical procedure or drug animal tests are always done first. However in this case, the animals have more rights to use their own cells than we all do as humans. How sad is that?