News : 2011 : September

Peyton Manning’s Receiving Stem Cell Therapy Thrusts Medical Procedures Back Into Sports Spotlight

BY Christian Red

Originally Published:Sunday, September 18th 2011, 9:54 PM
Updated: Monday, September 19th 2011, 2:30 AM

Peyton Manning’s trip to Europe to receive stem cell therapy on his ailing neck is the latest attempt by an elite athlete seeking to expedite recovery from injury using a controversial medical procedure.

A Fox Sports report Sunday detailed how the Colts quarterback and four-time league MVP sought the stem cell therapy after two surgeries on his neck did not help address a painful bulging disk. He had another surgery recently, the third in 19 months, and it’s unclear if Manning will be healthy enough to play this season.

While the NFL does not prohibit stem cell therapy – “unless a banned substance is used as part of the procedure,” said an NFL spokesman – the treatment is not approved in the U.S., and it is still very much a developing science.

A California biotechnology company, Geron, has received FDA approval to conduct clinical trials of embryonic stem cell therapy on humans with spinal cord injuries. And Dr. Barth Green, who founded 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 – adult, peripheral nerve cells that help with regeneration. But athletes such as Manning and Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon aren’t waiting around for approvals, and sports medicine procedures such as stem cell and the wildly popular platelet-rich plasma therapies are booming as a result of athletes seeking quick remedies to return to competition.