The New York Yankees have confirmed an earlier report from the New York Post that third baseman Alex Rodriguez recently traveled to Germany to receive an experimental therapy called Orthokine on his right knee “with the blessing of the Yankees and MLB.”
The therapy involves an injection of anti-inflammatory proteins obtained from a patient's own blood into problematic joints. Blood samples are taken from the arm and spun in a centrifuge, separating a protective protein, called Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), from the blood and increasing its concentration. The resulting serum is then injected into the joint in question, reducing pain and improving mobility.
Orthokine was developed for the treatment of Osteoarthritis, a painful loss of cartilage in joints, by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Wehling of the Center for Orthodonics and Molecular Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany.
“Orthokine therapy provides long-term relief from pain and joint dysfunction in many patients and does so more effectively than comparable treatments", said Dr. Wehling, who is also the founder of Orthogen AG, a German biotech company that distributes the therapy in the E.U.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the therapy.
Rodriguez, who underwent surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee last summer, is not the first athlete to head to Germany for the therapy. The New York Post reported hardwood star Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers actually tipped off Rodriguez after undergoing Orthokine therapy twice in the past year, including once on his ankle just a few weeks before the start of the NBA season. Bryant played in the season opener on Christmas, and Rodriguez is expected to be ready for spring training come February.