A sports medicine researcher urges physicians, parents, and coaches to be cautious when considering treating young athletes’ injuries using platelet rich plasma (PRP), stem cells, or other types of regenerative medicine.

“While regenerative medicine appears to have promise in many areas of medicine, little is known about the safety or effectiveness of these treatments for bone, cartilage, ligament, or muscle tissue injuries in children and adolescents,” opines Thomas Best, MD, PhD, professor of orthopedics, family medicine, biomedical engineering and kinesiology, and team physician for University of Miami athletics and the Miami Marlins, in a media release.

Best was lead author of a collaborative study, published recently in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Current Sports Medicine Reports.

“Evidence from laboratory and veterinary research suggests that mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) may provide an alternative treatment option for conditions that affect muscle, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage,” the authors write in the study, according to the release from University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“This evidence, however, is based largely on studies in adults and it remains unknown whether these results will be duplicated in our younger populations,” they add.

In the study, the researchers pose a seven-point call to action: 1) Exercise caution in treating youth with cell-based therapies as research continues; 2) Improve regulatory oversight of these emerging therapies; 3) Expand governmental and private research funding; and 4) Create a system of patient registries to gather treatment and outcomes data.

Additional points include: 5) Develop a multiyear policy and outreach agenda to increase public awareness; 6) Build a multidisciplinary consortium to gather data and promote systematic regulation; and 7) Develop and pursue a clear collective impact agenda to address the “hype” surrounding regenerative medicine.

“Despite the media attention and perceived benefits of these therapies, there are still limited data as to efficacy and long-term safety. The involvement of clinicians, scientists and ethicists is essential in our quest for the truth,” the team concludes.

[Source(s): University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Science Daily]