December 6, 2022

Bartolo Colón’s stem cell therapy: comment

Athletes have always been addicted to winning – and they have always found ways to enhance their performance.
Athletes
have always been addicted to winning – and they have always found ways to
enhance their performance. Norse warriors consumed hallucinogenic toadstools
and Roman gladiators used stimulants. Today, improved technology and training
regimes are the main enhancers. However, doubt hangs over the boundaries
between improvement and illegal performance enhancement. 

As reported in
BioEdge
, Bartolo Colón, star Yankees pitcher, struggled with a
shoulder injury for five years before he received a pioneering stem cell
treatment in the Dominican Republic that put him back on the mound and pitching
at 150km/h. Major League Baseball, however, has just opened an investigation to
find out whether his treatment should be categorised as doping.

A
New Scientist comment this month points out that the controversy over Colón’s
treatment hides the real issue – whether researchers should use athletes as
guinea pigs.

“Radical
treatments like this could open the door to new forms of regenerative therapy,
not just for sports injuries, but also for conditions that affect us all as we
age, such as sarcopenia, a debilitating loss of muscle. Colón’s treatment is
not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so he is in effect a
guinea pig for this procedure. As such, he is helping to compensate for the
dearth of research in this underexploited realm of regenerative medicine.”

According
to New Scientist, Colón’s treatment did not constitute performance enhancement
– that it was a modification of natural repair in which his own cells were used
to restore his arm to its state before the injury. ~ New Scientist,
Jun 8

Bartolo Colón’s stem cell therapy: comment
Jared Yee
sport
sports
stem cells