Researchers are one day hoping to use stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to basically stave off age-related diseases.
Researchers at the Vail-based Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute have been trying to find a way to slow down the way our bodies age and speed up the way they heal, and they just might be getting close to a breakthrough.
“We’re trying to develop the iPhone 9 of medicine,” Johnny Huard, chief scientific officer and director of the institute’s Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine, told the Denver Post in an interview.
“Your iPhone 6 and 7 are great, it’s doing everything you want, but you’re looking on the web at what the iPhone 8’s going to do. We want to have surgeons here doing surgery on our best football, hockey, basketball players, and instead of losing a year to heal, can we heal them in six months? Three months?”
Huard and his team are one day hoping to use stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to basically stave off age-related diseases and cut the recovery time from injuries down by half.
“I don’t think we can reverse aging, but I think we can age better and recover from injury better,” Marc Philippon, managing partner of the Steadman Clinic and co-chairman of the research institute, said.
“As a surgeon my biggest challenge is, if I cut on you there’s always that healing phase. We want to recover faster. But the most important thing is prevention of injury. If your cells are aging better, you’ll have less injury.”
Because stem cells start out as undifferentiated cells, they can potentially turn into a range of specialized cells including cartilage, muscles, and bone, which is partly what makes them so valuable when it comes to anti-aging breakthroughs.
Same with platelets: They carry proteins that help your body heal from injuries. This could have big implications not just for professional athletes but anyone who works out regularly.
That’s why Huard advocates saving the umbilical cord -- which is chock-full of cord blood stem cells and cord tissue stem cells -- from your baby’s birth (if you have kids), arguing that harvesting and freezing it is the best gift you can give your kids.
“I tell people, ‘No more flowers, just freeze the stem cells from that newborn,’ ” Huard told the Denver Post.
However, until we figure out exactly how to use stem cells or PRP to literally turn back the clock, diet and exercise are the best weapons you have for warding off old age, preventing injuries, and staying healthy. (But then, you probably already knew that.)