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Gene Therapy Gives Colorado Dogs Longer Lives

DENVER (CBS4) - It's a stress no Colorado pet owner ever wants to face -- the idea of having to put a pet down. However, Joy Hughes found herself in this position when her dog's pain was preventing him from being able to stand or get up on his own.

Hughes wondered how much longer she could allow her Labrador retriever, Tucker, to suffer. He has severe hip dysplasia.

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For years, veterinarians have had to put down animals with chronic pain, especially when they are too uncomfortable to move on their own. Now Colorado dog owners are getting the gift of time thanks to a local study that seems to be doing wonders for pets with arthritis pain.

Hughes signed Tucker up for the study after seeing CBS4's story "New Gene Therapy For Dogs Developed In Boulder Could Help Humans" in November. Veterinarians are conducting the gene study only on Colorado dogs and so far they are finding a 100% success rate. Dogs are getting a new lease on life after just one injection. The shot is made up of the Interleukin 10 gene, which the body naturally produces.

Dr. Rob Landry gave Tucker that shot and now he can run, hike and is pain free.

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Landry is the only veterinarian in the United States administering this therapy. He owns Colorado Animal Pain Center in Northglenn and tells CBS4's Britt Moreno "the FDA and animal drug companies like to see higher population of patients." That's why he is searching for even more dogs with severe pain to participate in the study.

This gene therapy study was recently supported by funding from Cielo Foundation. The donor is allowing the study to continue and now Landry and his colleagues need to recruit more dogs.

There is a certain criteria dogs have to meet to get this free treatment, which includes dogs who are not responding to pain medications and dogs who have been diagnosed as having degenerative joint arthritis or dysplasia.

Right now the same therapy is being tried on people in California and Australia. If this works, doctors predict it could help ease the prescription of opioids to people as well as prevent hip and knee replacements.

Donors can also connect with the CU Foundation research fund at

For more information email: or call the Colorado Center for Animal Pain Management & Rehabilitation office number:  720-502-5823.

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