High profile athletes run to stem cell treatment with PRP injections
Athletes Opt for Stem Cells (Biloine Young @ OTW)
The news that Peyton Manning went to Europe to receive stem cell therapy on his neck has thrust that treatment—still unapproved by the FDA—back into the medical spotlight. A report by Fox Sports relates that the Colts quarterback and four-time MVP asked for the stem cell therapy after two surgeries did not relieve the pain in his neck from a bulging disc.
The National Football League does not prohibit stem cell treatment “unless a banned substance is used as part of the procedure,” an NFL spokesperson said.
Dr. Barth Green, founder of the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, says his center is in the final stages of getting FDA approval to treat spinal cord injuries with Schwann cells—which are adult, peripheral nerve cells that are believed to help with regeneration. However athletes such as Manning and Yankee pitcher Bartolo Colon are not waiting for approvals. Because more and more athletes are requesting unproven sports medicine procedures that may allow them to return to competition more quickly, such as stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments, some doctors are providing them.
Other doctors remain uneasy and unconvinced about the efficacy of stem cell and PRP therapies. Of particular concern is whether introducing substances such as human growth hormone into either procedure will improve the results. Even more daunting for those involved in the war on doping in sports is whether the treatments cross the line between healing injuries and enhancing performance.
“It’s a dicey issue,” says Dr. Ken Mautner, a sports medicine physician at Emory University. Mautner has been using PRP therapy for three years, but says he has never used HGH on his patients. “When you’re dealing with pro athletes, you can’t use HGH in any capacity. But with the regenerative type of medicine, I think that’s where the whole sports field may be going.”