NICHOLASVILLE — A partnership with a larger distribution company means that MediVet America will bring more jobs to Jessamine County.
MediVet, headquartered in Nicholasville, is a two-year-old company that makes stem-cell kits for the treatment of animals. Late last month, MediVet announced its partnership with Butler Schein Animal Health to sell and distribute stem-cell kits to veterinarians around the world.
That means a bigger sales force pitching MediVet's products and that, in turn, means the company will hire more people and bring manufacturing to Jessamine County, said MediVet CEO Jeremy Delk. The company's products are now manufactured in Australia.
MediVet employs 12 full-time people in Nicholasville, and Delk anticipates that Jessamine County will gain five to seven sales jobs and 10 to 20 manufacturing jobs in the "next three to six months."
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Butler Schein, headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, sells all kinds of equipment and supplies to veterinarians, and has nearly 400 sales representatives. That sales force means "more feet on the ground" to tout MediVet's products and services to veterinarians, Delk said.
Stem cells are simple cells in the body that can develop into any one of various kinds of cells, such as blood cells, skin cells, etc. They can regenerate new cells to replace or repair damaged tissue.
The stem cells used in veterinary medicine are not embryonic, which have attracted controversy in recent years, but are taken from "adipose" or the fat tissue of an adult animal.
The kits that MediVet sells enable veterinarians to remove a small sample of fat, separate the stem cells, then activate and inject them back into affected areas.
While equine vets are using stem cells to treat horses for soft-tissue problems and joint diseases, the small-animal market is much bigger, Delk said.
There are 170 million dogs and cats in the United States, and 25 percent of them will suffer from sort of degenerative disease like osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, or damage to joint cartilage, ligaments and tendons.
Stem-cell therapy is "a lot less invasive and a lot less expensive than a surgical procedure," Delk said. "We're harnessing the power of these cells to regenerate tissue and cartilage, to provide a pain-relieving effect" and to also start tissue repair.
The company also is expanding stem-cell use to treat renal and liver failure in cats.
"About 30 percent of all cats will eventually die from that," Delk said.
Veterinarians will typically charge $1,700 to $1,800 for the stem-cell procedure in small animals, he said. Procedures with horses might cost $2,400.
The kits made and distributed by MediVet contain the tools and enzymes that the veterinarians need to perform the procedure.
If a vet doesn't have the space or staff to do the procedure, they can send the fat tissue to Nicholasville, and a lab there will process the sample, activate the cells, and send it back to the doctor.
The company also freezes and "banks" stem cells for future use through its lab services.
Delk, a Bardstown native, said MediVet is in Nicholasville to be "close to the horse capital in Lexington."
His family also owned the lot on Moore Drive where the company has its offices and lab.
Delk made the announcement about the partnership with Butler Schein at a Feb. 24 conference for veterinarians in Las Vegas.
"We had 180 veterinarians to turn up at 6:30 in the morning in Las Vegas," Delk said, "so you know there's something of interest there."