Indianapolis researcher explains stem cell therapy

Peyton Manning

INDIANAPOLIS - There are several reports that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning went to Europe for stem cell therapy.

Fox Sports says Manning traveled there before his third neck surgery. The therapy is not approved for use in the United States.

Manning was reportedly at the Colts' practice facility on Friday and Saturday, but he wasn't on the sidelines for Sunday's game.

Dr. Keith March is the director of the IUPUI "Signature" Vascular and Cardiac Center of Adult Stem Cell Cast (VC-CAST). His life's work is dedicated to unlocking the powers of adult stem cells and advancing treatment.

Eyewitness News asked him to explain the concept behind stem cell therapy.

"There are a number of stem cells in one's own body. Adult stem cells come from the fat, the bone marrow; those are very typically investigated. What he's seeking, really, one would imagine from the reports, are that those cells, when delivered to the area where the danger is, where the surgery was done, could provide any of three different aspects that would be helpful," said Dr. March.

Stem cell therapy brings three benefits: reducing inflammation, enhancing nerve regeneration and bone growth.

"One would be to reduce inflammation. Clearly when a nerve is compressed, inflammation is a problem. The adult stem cells secrete a number of factors and modulate the immune system to reduce that. The second thing, the stem cells from the fat - many labs have now shown - and our lab in particular - have shown with nerves, in fact, that they secrete factors that are able to enhance the growth of nerves and help perhaps even the nerve stem cells' regeneration. The third and probably most clear potential benefit is that these cells have been shown very clearly, when derived from the fat, they are not only able to give rise to fat and to blood vessels but also to bone," he said.

Dr. March says there are important studies going on in Finland and Germany that are looking at the ability to enhance bone growth after injuries.

"In the context of that bone fusion that Mr. Manning may have had, the stem cells introduced to that area - if that was what happened, of course - this is speculative; that could enhance the bone to fuse, particularly to develop new bone - his own bone, since by reports they're his own stem cells," he said.

According to Dr. March, stem cells derived from fat have had much less investigation that stem cells derived from bone.

"The reason you would be going [to Europe] is because they're not FDA approved here. But they're actively under investigation," he said.

Learn more:

Cell Therapy Foundation

Adult Stem Cell Research Network