Snake oil stem cell sports medicine: A-Rod, Kobe, Dana White

stem cell sports medicine
Stem cell sports medicine.

I’ve written in the past (see here, here, and parody here on HuffPost) about how stem cell sports medicine is a dangerous thing.

It continues to grow in popularity.

There’s a new piece out now saying that Ultimate Fight Championship President Dana White went on a stem cell tourism trip to Germany for a treatment for his Menier’s Disease and it basically made him a new man (emphasis mine):

“Well, A-Rod from the Yankees, hit me up and told me that when he was hurt Kobe called him and they both went to Germany and did this stem cell stuff. Right. So he says listen bro, I don’t know if this is going to help you, but I’ll tell you what it’s worth a shot. Well long story short, we had the fight out in Sweden. I went to Germany. I got the stem cells. Dude, I am 100 percent cured. I am 100 percent a new guy, man. I’m working out again. I’m doing all the things that I used to do. I’m traveling. My life is back. All they do is they go in there, they take your blood, they incubate it, they spin it and add stuff to it. I don’t know what the hell they do, I’m no scientist. I’m a million bucks now, man. I couldn’t feel better.”

There is no reason to believe that any of this actually works and is safe.

Reportedly the stem cell procedure has White feeling like “a million bucks.”

Is that what it cost too?

Now apparently White is going to spread the word about stem cells all around the sports world. Great….

Who exactly are these German doctors and what the hell are they doing?

How long before someone gets injured or killed from this snake oil?

13 thoughts on “Snake oil stem cell sports medicine: A-Rod, Kobe, Dana White”

  1. I have CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth) and I have an ostechondral defect on my talar bone (ankel bone).

    I have very effected but still have muscles re: CMT
    I am 58 yrs old in CA.

    Who/where in the world are people spear heading Stem Cell research, and getting positive results?

    I presume stem cells if they work, will progress according to what is easiest first. Will what i have end up being taken up sooner or later than other afflictions?

    Gary Oelze

  2. Pingback: A-Rod’s BioGenesis Performance Enhancing Drug Use & Stem Cell Therapies | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

  3. I have had Meniere’s Disease for 10 years and pray this stem cell thing is real! I have lost my life to this disease and I want it back! The idea that there may be a cure has given me back the hope that I have lost over the years – and I am very excited to know there may be a cure!

    1. Hi Deidre,
      I can certainly understand your excitement and hope, but I’d encourage a very cautious approach to considering stem cell therapies. It’s like the Wild West out there now in the for-profit stem cell field. There are good guys and bad guys and some in between. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but the future definitely looks bright.

  4. Well, one thing is certain – Evidence the cells in no way make the patient smarter “Man”.

  5. Pingback: Dr. Steven Victor of Intellicell Comments on its Stem Cell Treatments | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

  6. Todd, appreciate the light you shone on conflicts of interest in the stem cell industry in your article ‘Autologous cell therapies: challenges in US FDA regulation’.
    This helped inform the infographic we posted at
    You summarized it well: doctors have a bias in the direction of treatment, academics in securing endless grants to fund their labs, “industry” in creating barriers to entry, consultants in generating consulting fees, and regulators in expanding regulatory turf. The only people who don’t have a conflict are the very sick patients with few options who are now forced overseas. Do you yest see anyone trying to help patients caught in this conflicted quagmire, so we can get effective cell therapy here in our own country?

  7. Todd McAllister

    Mark, I am saddened to see you write such an opinionated, baseless blog, particularly as I feel you have previously made fairly objective and informative assessments. I think we all share the vision to make stem cell treatments safer. I think we all share the same hope to make them more effective. Let’s focus our efforts on bringing a level of safety to the procedure, and transparency to the follow up. I am not saying that what Kobe says should be accepted as scientific data, but your shrill alarm calling this snake oil seems no more credible than a WWF wrestler saying it works. Let’s all get away from the alarmist tone, and instead, work to find the safest clinics, the best protocols, and the most transparent reporting.

  8. Take a look at this Snake oil info-graphic interactive graph.
    Wouldn’t it be great to be able to do this with all the methodologically sound stem cell and regenerative medicine papers? They provide an excel sheet of all the research they have looked at to date..You can go to the papers from the graph to see the evidence so people can make up their own minds. They have pre-determined standards for the papers (adequate to include in a Cochrane review)

  9. We have treated numerous professional athletes and weekend warriors successfully using our cellular therapy of non-manipulated SVFCs. We have grown cartilage on MRIs and have patients still doing well 4 years out. We have also treated osteoarthritis and rhematoid arthritis successful. Since our cells are autologous and not manipulated (we do not use enzymes or anything else).
    This is the future of sports medicine.

  10. We have treated numerous athletes with SVFCs , some professional and some weekend warriers, and have grown cartilage on MRIs. Since our cells are autologous and not manipulated (we do not use enzymes etc) the safety of the cellular therapy is 100%.
    This is the future of sports medicine and our next step is FDA IND double blind studies but we have treated over 59 knees 7 plantar fascistis, 10 rotator cuffs etc successfully without any side effects.

  11. SammyJo Wilkinson

    More good stem cell news Paul, which seems to be your worst nightmare.
    Here is a data point preview, from the set of 233 subjects in the Celltex trial, which will reach 1 year data collection point in Oct 2013 (being done by an outside 3rd party), and published in 2014.

    9 month update on my husband Doug. At 58, had very restricted hip movement and pain, his orthopedist told him he’d need cortisone shots, then a new hip in a few years. He had 400 million adult stem cells bu IV Aug. 2012, and he’s seeing all of the anti-aging effects stem cells are known for:

    *Rheumatoid arthritis hand/finger pain gone, strength and dexterity back
    *Both hips better, more flex, can squat down to floor and stand up w/o pain
    *Back pain gone (herniated disk 2008)
    *Severe gout of 40 years resolved, stopped allopurinol Jan 2013
    *Sleeps through the night, don’t have to urinate
    *Increase in sexual energy
    *Energy high, doesn’t take naps anymore
    *Skin smoother, fewer wrinkles
    *No more migraines
    *Now takes ZERO pharmaceutical drugs, doesn’t need pain relievers.
    *Claustrophobia and fear of heights gone (caused by Celexa drug 10 yrs ago)

    The last item we weren’t even expecting, but it shows the IV stem cells do get to the brain. He can now go over the high Houston overpasses, get in an MRI tube or elevator, and stand on the edge of the roof. Before the stem cells this all caused sweating and anxiety.

    This good news is going to keep piling up, until the n’s become so large it is no longer anecdotal, but rather epidemiologic data that cannot be shouted down by folks like you Paul. You need to get over your knee-jerk Semmelweis reflex, and contribute your extensive scientific knowledge to this exciting paradigm shift.

  12. As the lawyers will tell you, onus is everything. It would appear White’s testimony is indeed limited evidence that this may work. Certainly you would call this evidence if this were in mice.

    Furthermore, there is also no evidence that this does not work or that it is unsafe.

    Upon what do you base your assessment that this is unquestionably ‘snake oil’?

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