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How veterinary medicine can save the world, Part 1: Curing disease

In the next few months, we're taking a close look at how veterinary medicine benefits people, not just animals. In this first installment, we meet a 'translational' (cross-species) researcher who's in the process of revolutionizing orthopedic medicine—for people and pets.
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Sep 01, 2013

The pain never stops. It bites when you sit. It bites when you stand. It bites when you climb the stairs, push in the clutch, bend over to pick up a piece of paper. It even bites when you lie down and try to sleep at night.

When your orthopedist slaps the x-ray up on the wall and describes the situation as "bone-on-bone," you know exactly what the words mean.

They mean somewhere down the road, your knee joints or hip balls will be sawed off and replaced with plastic or titanium. Yes, titanium joints are beautifully machined to tolerances representing the best of what the human mind can engineer. And if all goes well and you do the rehabilitation work, you'll get relief from the pain—at least for as long as these devices last.

But what if there were a better way? What if those replacement parts could be living tissue? Better yet, what if the deterioration was caught early and your orthopedist started a regenerative process rendering implants unnecessary?

Those living tissue replacements are being tested today in the lab and the clinic, and if someday they come to a knee or a hip near you, you can thank a dog ... and a veterinarian.