A decade ago, stem cells and World Cup soccer would have been considered an unusual pairing yet today they can easily be found on the same playing field. Recent reports indicate that some players in top-tiered soccer leagues are storing their infants’ stem cells for possible use as a “repair kit” for future injuries.
“As a footballer, if you’re prone to injury it can mean the end of your career, so having your stem cells – a repair kit if you like – on hand makes sense,” said one unnamed Premier League player from England in a 2006 story in the London Times. “We decided to store our baby’s stem cells for possible future therapeutic reasons, both for our children and possibly for myself.”
Stem cells defined as ‘mesenchymal’ stem cells are of increasing interest to the field of regenerative medicine because they are able to become many different types of cells including bone, cartilage, tendon and more. One example of a possible application for these cells would be for the treatment of damaged knee cartilage, which is a very common athletic injury that can occur while playing sports or exercising. As a result of the injury, the joint becomes inflamed and painful. Injection of stem cells can potentially lead to cartilage rejuvenation.