Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adult stem cells increasingly used to treat sports injuries

ESPN The Magazine has a story in its Oct. 17, 2011, issue about the use of stem cell therapies to help professional athletes heal from injuries:
Doctors in athletic circles are particularly optimistic about a specific [stem cell] line called mesenchymal stem cells, which they can extract in sizable numbers from fat and bone marrow. When properly cultivated and injected into an injured body part, the cells might be able to repair a banged-up jock's cartilage, bones, tendons and muscles dramatically faster than conventional surgical methods.

Clinics around the world report amazing results using these minimally invasive cellular procedures to repair torn ACLs. ...

In Europe, healthy top-level soccer players are already having their stem cells harvested and grown into lines of bone and connective tissue in case of injury.
The story is critical of FDA safety requirements in the United States that have caused some athletes -- among them superstar quarterback Peyton Manning -- to travel overseas for experimental procedures, which may or may not prove therapeutically successful. Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon received an FDA-approved stem cell injection in 2010, which seems to have significantly improved his right shoulder and elbow following rotator cuff surgery.

The most notable feature of the ESPN article? It does not mention unethically-derived embryonic stem cells even once. Such cells have never benefited a single patient. The buzz surrounding the use of stem cells for sports injuries is focused entirely on the only stem cell type that has successfully treated patients (and saved lives), and the only type that promises much more therapeutic success in the future: ethical and uncontroversial adult stem cells.