NFL Stem Cell Treatments, USA Today, and the US Army

by Chris Centeno, MD /

nfl stem cell fda purita

This past week a highly syndicated USA Today article appeared that was critical of NFL stem cell treatments and the athletes that seek these cures. Reading the article, one got the impression that stem cells used to treat orthopedic problems were some sort of “snake oil”. As I thought about how to discuss this article on my blog this morning, I realized that a compare and contrast against a US Army Regenerative Medicine conference where I lecture next week was in order.

The USA Today article on athlete stem cell treatments that appears above highlighted a few doctors who have one thing in common-they have produced not a shred of scientific evidence that what they offer athletes is helpful in any way. Dr. Victor in Manhattan and Dr. Purita in Florida who were featured in the article began doing this work about 5 and 6 years respectively after we began it in 2005. In that time, neither has published any of their results, which was again confirmed this morning by a search of the US National Library of Medicine. Not a single case study, small case series, large case series, comparison trial, or randomized controlled trial-in other words, “nada”. In fact, none of the physicians mentioned in the article, including Dr. Andrews has published a single patient result. During this time, we at Regenexx, have been hard at work and as of last month, had published on 28% of all the patients that have had their results published in the peer reviewed medical literature after orthopedic bone marrow stem cell use.

All of this “blow up” comes at an interesting time for us, as I prepare to lecture at the US Army’s Regenerative Medicine course at Walter Reed this next weekend. The Army isn’t buying all of the “noise” on athletes and stem cells, it’s training it’s doctors in the best practices for using stem cells to treat orthopedic injuries in our wounded warriors.

The upshot? This weird duality-between clinics who have published nothing on what they do and are being positioned as modern snake oil salesmen in national news pieces and those that have worked hard on research and who are preparing to teach our Army physicians is a like a modern morality play. Our focus is publishing the results of what we do and funding our three randomized controlled trials and maybe helping a wounded soldier or two in the process!

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Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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