Any Given Sunday

Deflate-gate notwithstanding, an estimated 100 million plus viewers will tune it to see the 49th Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 1. However, most may not be aware of the strides being made off the field in terms of stem cell treatments for sports-related injuries.

Stem cells in sports injuries

Reports of high-profile athletes undergoing stem cell procedures have garnered lots of publicity. But the reality is the role of regenerative medicine in the treatment of sports-related injuries is steadily gaining traction. For good reason.

There are more than 772 adult stem cell clinical trials approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that are currently being conducted and many of them involve investigations of relevance to injuries of bone, cartilage, tendons or skeletal muscle, therefore having implications for sports-related injuries.
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered which stem cells give rise to bone, cartilage and bone marrow and how they work.[i]

Mesenchymal stem cells

All of these tissue types of interest in sports medicine are derived from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSCs give rise to structural tissues such as bone, cartilage and fat. MSCs are emerging as a promising therapeutic agent for tissue regeneration. Sources of mesenchymal stem cells are found in adipose (fat tissue), peripheral blood, bone marrow and umbilical cord tissue. Umbilical cord tissue is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells and they are already being researched to treat tissue injuries and degenerative diseases.

"Millions of times a year, orthopedic surgeons see torn cartilage in a joint and have to take it out because cartilage doesn't heal well, but that lack of cartilage predisposes the patient to arthritis down the road," said Dr. Michael Longaker, professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Stanford." This research raises the possibility that we can create new skeletal stem cells from patients' own tissues and use them to grow new cartilage."

Though among sports fanatics, there may not be the same fan-fare for the fields of cell-based therapies as there is for the action on the football field, stem cell therapies and regenerative medicine are proving to offer safe and potentially efficacious treatment for sports-related musculoskeletal injuries. This potential benefit provides immense hope for individuals recovering from sports-related injuries.  
[i] Knapton, Sarah. "Broken Bones and Torn Cartilage Could Be Regrown in Simple Operation." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Jan. 2015.

Last Updated on: 12/11/2023 by Oleg Mikulinsky