The 13-year-old Siberian tiger Igor's hip joint is treated with a stem-cell procedure in Szeged, southern Hungary, on April 18, 2018. (Xinhua/Attila Volgyi)
Igor, a Siberian tiger at the Szeged Zoo in southern Hungary, was treated with a stem cell treatment procedure for his hip joint here on Wednesday.
The 13-year-old carnivore, who had been suffering from joint pains for many years, was treated with a new Lipogems process that has already been successfully used to treat human joints in Hungary. Igor was the world's first Siberian tiger to be treated with the Lipogems stem cell procedure.
The process cures the injured joints with a tissue taken from the patient's own fatty tissue, which contains regenerative stem cells. As in the case of people suffering from joint disorder, Igor's hip joint was treated by doctors in a treatment that lasted a day.
The technology to improve the quality of life of patients suffering from joint disorders was developed in Italy in 2010.
"Igor's hip joint was treated like the hip joint of a human being. During the stem-cell joint treatment process, a small amount of fatty tissue is taken from the patient's -- in this case Igor -- body, which after mechanical purification is implanted during a 45 to 60-minute procedure into the joint in need of treatment," said Dr. Robert Gippert, the leading veterinarian at the Ro-Vet Small Animal Clinic of Kaposvar.
"Just like in humans, the worn out joint of Igor the tiger will heal due to the regenerative and self-healing effects of stem cells, without the use of external materials," he added.
"Around 30,000 patients around the world and over 550 patients in Hungary have been treated so far with the Lipogems stem cell joint treatment procedure," said Jozsef Veres, the managing director of the Hungarian business partner of the Lipogems process, Medropolitan Consulting Kft.
"We are confident that like in the case of these human patients, Igor's hip pain will soon be reduced dramatically or be completely eliminated, and -- to the delight visitors of the Zoo -- Igor can live his days again without joint pain," he added.
The Lipogems procedure has been available in Hungary in human medicine for years, but the veterinary application only started recently. Its use in this therapeutic area is still relatively new. In Central and Eastern Europe, it is currently available only in Hungary, where dogs and horses have been treated.
Igor is expected to make a full recovery in three months.