Mark Cuban Continues His Support For Growth Hormone Research
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Mark Cuban, the famous Internet entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has continued his outspoken support for the possible use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) by funding a study by University of Michigan scientists and physicians to explore how Human Growth Hormone may aid recovery from an ACL tear — one of the most frequent, traumatic and dreaded knee injuries among athletes.
The funding is being provided by the Mark Cuban Foundation.
Almost a quarter of NBA players and a third of NFL players who suffer an ACL tear have seen their careers ended prematurely.
And even the athletes who do make it back usually miss over three-quarters of the regular season and require over a year of recovery time.
As with most medical procedures, advances have been made in both surgical techniques and accelerated rehabilitation.
However, in spite of this progress, nearly a quarter of a million patients who suffer ACL tears each year still suffer permanent weakness and muscle loss. This is devastating for anyone, particularly so for professional athletes.
This gap hinders their ability to return to the same level of sports performance and can cause problems years after they retire by increasing their chances of developing painful osteoarthritis.
The clinical trial will study if Growth Hormone can safely improve recovery and help to prevent long-term osteoarthritis and knee joint weakness after an ACL tear.
“There is a large body of research on growth hormone, and our study will be the first of its kind to explore whether it may aid recovery from an ACL tear,” says principal investigator Christopher Mendias, Ph.D., ATC, assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Molecular & Integrative Physiology at the University of Michigan Medical School and MedSport researcher.
“We think that a brief treatment with growth hormone around the time of surgery will help to limit some of the otherwise irreversible loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs after these injuries.”
The study will last two years and will be a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Neither the patients nor their doctors will know whether they are taking the drug or an inactive placebo until after the study has been completed.
A safety committee composed of U-M physicians will carefully observe and measure patient health and safety throughout the study. The trial will determine if patients regain full knee strength within six months after surgery.
Human Growth Hormone (somatropin) is available by prescription, and has been used to prevent muscle atrophy and wasting in patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV, commonly referred to as AIDS) and other severe illnesses.
Recent research from the University of Copenhagen has also shown that HGH can prevent muscle loss in otherwise healthy individuals who are immobilized for a brief period.
However, when taken at a very high dose for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to large gains in muscle mass.
Because of the potential for abuse, most professional sports leagues throughout the world currently ban Growth Hormone.
“There are a lot of assumptions about how growth hormone may impact athletic performance and sports injuries, but these claims are not supported by substantial scientific evidence,” Mendias says.
“We hope our findings will help professional sports organizations make more informed decisions about whether growth hormone should remain a banned substance or be used as a treatment that can safely aid healing in players, return them to their pre-injury strength levels and reduce other long-term musculoskeletal risks which result from these injuries. The dose and timing of growth hormone in this study were carefully chosen to prevent the loss of muscle mass following ACL tear and reconstruction, but not lead to muscle gains elsewhere in the body.”
“Improving the recovery of professional athletes with ACL tears will likely have a significant short-term impact on their playing careers but also help avoid long-term health problems like osteoarthritis that can diminish the quality of life and limit how active they can be as older adults,” says Mendias.
Mendias and colleagues at U-M’s MedSport clinic have specialized in sports medicine therapies, and have conducted several studies to improve the treatment of patients that suffer from muscle loss after rotator cuff tears or ACL tears.
“We hope our results bring new insight into the field of sports medicine and the quest to help both recreational and professional athletes more quickly return to the activities they enjoyed before, and improve their long-term quality of life.”
This trial has been reviewed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and is registered on ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02420353).
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