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Peyton Manning: Can stem cell therapy get Colts QB back in game?

September 19, 2011|By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
  • Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning after an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif.)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning after an NFL football game… (Tony Avelar / Associated…)

More revelations on the Peyton Manning neck-surgery saga: The Indianapolis Colts quarterback flew to Europe on a private jet before his latest surgery to get a stem cell treatment that isn't approved in the United States, according to Fox’s Jay Glazer.

Manning has been sitting out games this season after having neck surgeries in an attempt to fix problems caused by a bulging disc, but officials gave no estimate on when he would return to the game.

The stem cell treatment he used was not embryonic, Glazer said. Instead, doctors likely "took some fat cells, probably out of his belly," he said, "and they put it in a culture and they try to almost turn back the hands of time with these cells, and they inject them in the neck hoping that these cells are going to regenerate the area."

On a broad scale, such stem cell therapies haven't yet shown significant results -- but they probably will within the next decade, Dr. Hyun Bae, an orthopedic spine surgeon at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, said in an interview.

Bae is working on therapies that involve injecting stem cells into people's necks to help discs regenerate, but the work is in its very early days, he said.

As for whether a stem cell treatment could make a difference for Manning, Bae said the treatment wasn't likely to do much good. What Manning needs at this point, he said, was time -- a good six months of it, perhaps -- away from the field to heal.

On the bright side, he added, "What we do know from the [stem cell] technology in Europe -- and the technology in the States, as well -- is it most likely doesn't create much harm." 

In other words: For a quarterback itching to get healed as fast as possible, it can't hurt to try.

Follow me on Twitter @LAT_aminakhan.

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