Health knowledge made personal
Join this community!
› Share page:
Search posts:

Athletes and Stem Cells: Miracle Fountain of Youth or Banned Performance Enhancer?

Posted Jun 06 2011 9:20am 2 Comments

A 38-year old Major League Baseball pitcher named Bartolo Colon had it in his elbow and shoulder and then pitched a shut-out, reviving his professional career. 


A professional race horse by the name of Be a Bono, had it the knee joint and went from hobbled has-been to the top of his racing game, earning more than $1.25 million in winnings. 


It’s no wonder Sports illustrated hailed it as the ‘fountain of youth ”   and the Boston Herald giddily said it will change the face of sports medicine.


It is adult autologous stem cell transplantation, and it’s not just professional (human and equine)  athletes that are having the innovative new treatment that not only fixes what’s broke, but makes the patient younger in the process. 


Mort Farina, a compound pharmacist, knows firsthand.  Mort had stem cell therapy after heart attack and stroke.  The treatment was not available in the US, but Mort’s cardiology team from UCLA and Cedars Sinai pointed him towards Hospital Angeles, a plush private Mexican hospital network that US regenerative medicine device maker BioHeart chose for its Stem Cell Center of Excellence for treating congestive heart failure.


Dogs are getting the benefit too.   Research at Pittsburgh (and also at UCLA) eventually led to the creation in 2002 of the company Vet-Stem, which provides stem cell therapy for  dogs  -a market that is some with some 60 million dogs in this country alone.


Dogs like Hunter, who beloved of the Riha family, whose story appeared on ABC News.   With their  beloved golden retriever Hunter in severe pain from arthritis, , the Rihas were considering a $10,000 hip replacement when the vet offered them an alternative: a $2,500 stem cell transplant., calling it an  excellent in-between option that may mean the dog may never need a total hip replacement.


The Future of Medicine

Bill Futrell, former chairman of the plastic surgery department at the University of Pittsburgh, told Newsweek that stem cells with therapeutic capability could be derived from self-donated fat tissue was ‘a revelation’.


"When my researchers told me, 'We can make bone out of fat,' I was excited but naturally skeptical. The medical dogma for so long had been that liver cells make only liver cells, etc., etc. We were disproving that dogma in our labs. Our research looked at this again and again and again, and concluded that this was real, and that it could be very useful."


Professor of biochemistry and director of the Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University Health Sciences Center Dr. Darwin Prockop  has been researching non-embryonic stem cells for the past 14 years.


Interviewed by Newsweek, Dr. Prockop said that despite his early skepticism about fat-derived stem cells, “the potential uses for these and other non-embryonic stem cells are almost limitless”


Just as research in the adult autologous stem cell treatment arena has proliferated, so too has the commercialization of stem cell treatment undergone a similar explosion.  


While a few companies in the United States have started clinical trials with stem cells from fat cells on humans, treatments are readily available for the intrepid patient willing to travel abroad. 


In response to the proliferation of providers  and the Wild West nature of the internet, where credibility verification can be difficult, oversight and regulatory bodies are beginning to exert their muscle.   


Non-profit oversight body International Cellular Medicine Society (ICMS)  began an offshore registry of providers, and oversees an accreditation program that ensures stem cell treatment centers  have registered  clinical protocols as well as patient safety and efficacy measures in place.  Click here for the ICMS  patient brochure.


Does stem cell treatment work?

In addition to the evidence of Colon’s shutout and Be a Bono’s winnings, a number of treatment providers have reported positive clinical findings.  Three months after treatment, the four patients treated with the BioHeart TGI Cell Isolation System show significant improvement on key follow-up testing clinical measures: the e 6-minute walk and the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF).  


Patients receiving stem cell treatment for COPD are similarly improved, as videos featured on the Hospital  Angeles  Stem  Cell  Center  of  Excellence website reveal:


Ø   Patient Jill Munson is off supplemental oxygen for the first time in 14 years. 

Ø   Patient  Ron Delke went from, in his words, “praying the Lord would take me” to celebrating what he called ‘the greatest time of my life” dancing with his daughter at her wedding just three months after his treatment…and not an oxygen tank in sight!


If stem cell treatment proves as effective for others as it has for Colon    it could it mean the end of the injury list…and the start of a whole new level of baseball....and the start of a whole new level of health for the rest of us?

Comments (2)
Sort by: Newest first | Oldest first
In today's "Stem Cell Therapy for Congestive Heart Failure" Dr. Jesus Perez noted that it is highly likely stem cell transplants will be classified as an auto-transfusion, a banned activity in professional sports.
Health Travel Technologies connects patients to stem cell transplant providers that are part of the ICMS accreditation program.  Toll Free 866.978.2573 to talk to a case manager who is your advocate in the process of researching and finding treatment.
Post a comment
Write a comment: