Many conditions that we see in our pets also affect humans. The “One Health Initiative” http://www.onehealthinitiative.com/mission.php is a movement which links veterinarians and physicians in the study of the connection between human diseases, animal diseases and the environment. It is an extraordinary undertaking to see what we can learn from our pets in understanding the cause of disease, how it manifests itself and how that can bring about change in human medicine. Consider the following.
Some of you may remember the posts regarding the pilot study that we undertook in attempting to treat chronic and debilitating kidney disease with light (LASER) therapy. The study was presented at an international conference in Florence, Italy (ISLMS) as well as at a major conference in Boston this past spring. The light therapy resulted in a surprising improvement in the quality of life for patients, both cat and dog, suffering from long term advanced kidney disease. These patients retained their appetite, showed much more interest in playful behavior and seem to be living much longer than those patients treated in the traditional manner without light therapy. A finding, such as this, needs to be further studied in a broader based pet study, perhaps best achieved at a large institution. However, with the “One Health Initiative” in mind, we felt it was our obligation to find a way to spread the word over to the human side.
Doctors and medicine, in general, can be slow to embrace or even consider a new idea for treatment. Knowing this and yet being aware of the over one half of MILLION people in the United States who are on kidney dialysis several times weekly creates a moral dilemma. Here we hold a treatment in our hands that could impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people without the risk of side effects. Yet it often takes medicine years to even consider a new therapeutic idea. So with the urgency in mind, and knowing someone personally (“Patient X”) who has for many years suffered from serious kidney disease involving dialysis three times weekly our course was set. He checked with his doctors making sure there was no risk. And of course it might be helpful to note that Patient X is friends with the owner of one of the patients in our kidney disease study who has done extremely well. Five months later Patient X feels he has a “dramatically changed life”. His wife treats him with the light therapy unit three times weekly after his dialysis treatment. He feels much better, has more energy, is able to exercise often and, in fact, all of his doctors note a huge difference in his overall condition. So is this a new treatment or cure for kidney disease? Absolutely not. But it is a start it finding a new way to improve the lives of those who suffer from this difficult condition.
Veterinary Medicine is about improving lives. We accomplish this through providing wellness for our pet friends, educating the public about the responsibilities and benefits of pet ownership, and in promoting and changing the face of medicine. Hopefully Patient X’s doctors will feel that this treatment is worth a look. Or perhaps other kidney disease patients will find out through networking or social media. Regardless, the One Health Initiative is an avenue by which we can greatly expand our knowledge of diseases and explore new and innovative treatments.