Development of Advanced Cellular Therapies to Treat Dementia in Dogs



General Data

Member of UL: Veterinary faculty

Name of the leading partner:

Status:  leading partner

Project code/ Projet No.: C3330-17-529031

Project Title: Development of Advanced Cellular Therapies to Treat Dementia in Dogs

Project period: 1.6.2017 – 31.5.2020

Yearly sum of FTE: 1 FTE

Leader: research assoc. dr. Sonja Prpar Mihevc

Scientific field: Health - Medicine

Partners: University of Ljubljana, Veterinary faculty; Animacel Ltd


Project phases

Work package 1

WP1. Recruitment of dogs with dementia. Nevrological tests, biochemical analyses.        

Work package 2

WP2. Isolation of mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissues of demented and control dogs.        

Work package 3

WP3. Sampling canine brain of demented and control dogs and its analysis.

Work package 4

WP4. Transplantation of autologouos mesenchymal stem cells and/or nervous stem cels in brains of demented dogs or drug therapy.


Project description 

Cell therapies using stem cells, altered mammalian cells, or combinations of cells with tissue engineering products and advanced biomaterials have evolved during the last 20 years as an interesting and very promising option for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Alzheimer's disease is a public health problem worldwide and currently there is no effective treatment available. The lack of suitable animal models is also a problem in research of the pathogenesis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease. In recent years, it has been observed that age-related dementia in dogs is similar in many respects to Alzheimer's disease in humans. One feature of both diseases is the accumulation of amyloid plaques in the brain, which leads to cell decay and impaired brain function. The proposed project will study the pathogenesis of canine cognitive dysfunction (dementia) in dogs by identifying biochemical changes in the brains of diseased dogs in order to better understand the occurrence and similarity of dementia in humans and dogs. In addition to brain tissue, we will study the biochemical characteristics of nerve and mesenchymal stem cells derived from demented canine patients, test the action of some anti-dementia drugs on cells derived from demented dogs in vitro, and conduct the experimental treatments for canine dementia in the last phase of the project. The results of the project will be important for understanding the onset of dementia in dogs, for understanding whether the dog is a suitable model organism for studying the pathogenesis and treatment options of this disease in humans. In collaboration with Animacel Ltd, the ultimate goal of the project will be to develop stem cell therapies to treat canine cognitive dysfunction. This kind of advanced therapy would represent a very high market potential for Animacel, which already has a presence in the markets of several EU countries with its stem cell treatment applications.


Bibliography references

Sonja Prpar Mihevc in Gregor Majdič. Pregledni članek: Canine Cognitive Dysfunction and Alzheimer’s Disease – Two Facets of the Same Disease ?. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 2019.

Sonja Prpar Mihevc. Demenca in pes. Esinapsa : spletna revija za znanstvenike, strokovnjake in nevroznanstvene navdušence. 2019.

Maja Zakošek Pipan, Sonja Prpar Mihevc, Gregor Majdič. Lahko ima vaš pes demenco? : o nevrodegenerativni spremembi. Kinolog : glasilo Kinološke zveze Slovenije. 2017.


Structure of the project group