There is always talk of the “miraculous” recovery of athletes after suffering a major injury. They are often said to be made of another paste. And it’s true. In addition to a bomb-proof physique they have a very strong mental ability to overcome adverse situations. Obviously, the easy access of sports professionals to endless diagnostic tests and treatments helps their recovery time be twice as fast as that of the rest of the mortals, but very few know their secret to “regenerating” so quickly.


This is none other than so-called growth factors, a type of biological medicine that uses the body’s own cells to cure health problems and slow degenerative processes. They are proteins that are located in platelets and that accelerate tissue regeneration. Just draw the patient’s blood and the rest falls into the hands of a machine. After spinning the blood, it isolates the platelet-rich plasma, activates it to release the proteins, and is ready to be injected into the area to be treated. Its application is associated with ankle, knee injuries, muscle tears or fiber ruptures, but recently its effectiveness in stomatology, cosmetic surgery and ophthology has been shown.

Since the clinical application of this technique in 2004, which in 2011 ceased to be banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, has become an alternative to classical surgical treatments. NBA star Kobe Bryant or former Barcelona player Xavi Hernandez are just a few of the elite athletes who have turned to injecting growth factors to overcome muscle, ligament or bone ailments.

In Spain, one of the pioneer countries in the development of these therapies, Dr. Ramón Cugat is the greatest exponent in the field. Proof of this is that the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology of the Hospital Chiron that he directs applied in 2014 more than 40,000 doses of growth factors, most of them to athletes.

One of the biggest milestones achieved with this type of biological medicine is the treatment of osteoarthritis thanks to its anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties. In the load joints, such as the hip or knee, osteoarthritis causes a large wear and tear of the cartilage, leading the affected person to pass through the operating room to have a prosthesis placed. Dr. Cugat says that growth factors “are managing to regenerate 80% of the affected tissue.” “In situations where the operation was foreseeable, it has not been carried out at the moment,” he said. Cugat argues that it would be a good treatment for older people who suffer from this condition and who refuse to go through the operating room. However, public health has not yet applied this therapy. Researchers allege that it is too early, as it was approved as medical treatment in 2013, but they claim that in the not too distant future it will be implanted in hospitals.

Dr. Cugat predicts that the next step is to work with stem cells. Although it states that Spanish law does not allow such treatment to be implemented, it is of the view that, once there is sufficient scientific basis, it can be applied together with growth factors to treat, for example, paralysis. This and other issues were discussed in the fifth edition of the Scientific Days of the García Cugat Foundation, which are held this weekend at the Hospital Quirón in Barcelona.


Article:   Read more here