MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is playing some of the best football of his career.
Now, we're learning that Tannehill is involved in a medical treatment that is popular among a growing number of athletes.
He is storing his stem cells, some of which he has already had re-injected into his body.
Tannehill appeared in an advertisement for a stem cell company named Regenexx that was posted on YouTube.
"As an Athlete I am always pushing my body to the limit," Tannehill said in the video. "I'm here in Grand Cayman to undergo a bone marrow aspiration."
The science has been around a while.
Essentially they draw some of your stem cells and then inject them into injuries to help expedite healing.
Many athletes are turning to this science to stay healthy or recover faster.
In 2017, Tannehill banked his cells. He then ended up injuring his knee.
Regenexx injected his banked cells, plus ones grown in a lab, to help boost his recovery. But Tannehill ended up re-injuring the same knee.
"About 70% of ACL tears we can treat and get those to heal without the surgery," said Dr. Chris Centeno, Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Regenexx. "But about 30% are beyond the scope of this kind of procedure. And regrettably his was beyond the scope of this kind of procedure."
In the United States, the procedure of harvesting stem cells and creating new ones is illegal.
Some argue it's the future of medicine but ethically the Food and Drug Association has yet to sign off on it.
The company is phase two trials with the FDA, hence why it's being done in the Cayman Islands.
"There are 30-40 FDA trials ongoing for cultured cells like this, so we might not even be the first that gets to market," said Dr. Centeno.
In the YouTube ad, Tannehill believes the stem cells will help him not just during his football years, but also when he retires.
"I have these cells banked in Grand Cayman," Tannehill said. "I am able to use those to improve my quality of life and to be able to enjoy my life."
The procedure Tannehill received cost tens of thousands of dollars.
It's also worth noting that Tannehill is a paid spokesperson for Regenexx.
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