Stem Cell Therapy: Snake Oil or Savior?

February 20, 2022 by

As science and technology continue to merge at a breakneck pace within the 21st century, new medical treatments are multiplying exponentially. Professional and amateur athletes find themselves at the forefront of this wave as they become guinea pigs for new, as yet uncertified procedures and surgeries in their quest to come back quicker and stronger from injuries. 

Stem cell therapy has pushed its way to the forefront of this debate, as a number of high profile athletes are rumored to have had the treatment done, which is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada. For most, knowledge is surface-level at best, and when it comes to the science, third-year University of British Columbia PhD student Laura Stankiewicz said the jury is most definitely still out. 

“The idea behind these therapies is you can take a stem cell from someone’s body and that could become other types of cells,” said Stankiewicz, who is also on UBC’s rowing team. Stankiewicz said the most popularized form is Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which are defined as cells that have the ability to self-renew and also exhibit multilineage differentiation.

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