A world-class research and treatment centre that will specialise in using the body’s own blood cells to heal sports injuries and arthritis is planned for Queenstown within the year according to one of the world’s leading experts on Stem Cell Therapy. Speaking at the New Zealand College of Appearance Medicine Conference in Queenstown yesterday (Thursday August 1), Professor Boyd said Queenstown was at the forefront of Platelet Rich Plasma therapy in the country and was an "obvious choice" to expand into Stem Cell Therapy. Used in the USA for ten years and Australia for five years, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is already available in New Zealand thanks to Queenstown Regenerative Medicine (QRM) an internationally-linked Queenstown clinic. Endorsed worldwide by global sports superstars such as Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant, PRP is a process by which a small amount of blood is taken from the patient and then spun in a centrifuge which automatically produces PRP (blood plasma with a concentrated amount of platelets). Platelets are the blood’s "ambulance’, containing over 20 factors important for tissue repair and keeping the body healthy. The process takes about 15 to 20 minutes and increases the concentration of platelets by up to 500%. The PRP is then injected back into the patient’s affected area, which reduces inflammation and hence pain, while also stimulating the healing of the tendon or ligament and maybe even cartilage. It can be used in shoulders, knees, ankles, hips, elbows, wrists and much more. Stem Cell Therapy differs from PRP as it introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury. The stem cells are grown outside the body and then transplanted into the body. It is a lengthier, more involved process, whereas PRP is done purely by injection. "PRP is thus like the bloods "ambulance" - packed with over 20 factors which not only cause clotting when needed, but can dampen inflammation and reduce pain while also triggering repair processes. Instead of delivering just one signal as common drugs do, they provide a factory of helpers. "Stem Cell Therapy to heal sports and other injuries has proven to be a great success in clinical trials in the USA and UK, and it’s our aim to ensure this leading edge therapy is available in New Zealand," said Professor Boyd. "Our task as researchers is to understand how the body develops in the embryo, is maintained in adults and how it tries to trigger its own repair in disease states. "In terms of treating sporting injuries, it is highly likely that they will be combined with the exciting new world of stem cells - a potential revolution in medicine. Acting with PRP, certain stem cells can provide even more pain relief and even stronger tissues. "Within the year we will be bringing this combination of Stem Cell Therapy and PRP to Queenstown, making it the only centre in the country to offer this treatment. "The Queenstown stem cell clinic will be an important player in a multi-centre consortium working in tandem worldwide to improve patients’ lives," he added. Owned and operated by long-term local Marcelle Noble, QRM has been in operation for two years and been so successful it has recently opened a new permanent clinic at Remarkables Park Town Centre to meet increased demand for the treatment. Working alongside Professor Boyd, QRM owner and director Marcelle Noble said PRP had become increasingly popular in New Zealand and was a safe and effective treatment for some sports injuries and those suffering from arthritis. "By using and accentuating the body's own healing method, PRP treatment is now a viable option for many patients," she said. "Elite athletes and professional sports stars worldwide have been using this technique for years to get back in the game quicker and avoid surgery. It’s now developed further to become an affordable, safe and acceptable alternative that’s more easily accessible to members of the public, and we’ve seen some wonderful results in athletes and non-athletes. "It’s achieved fantastic results with osteoarthritis in knees, ankles and other joints. Queenstown is leading the way in PRP therapy and it’s at an exciting stage of its development," she said. Ms Noble has a national diploma in ambulance practice and has been active in the health industry for 15 years with extensive experience in many aspects of PRP in Australia, New Zealand and the USA. PRP Therapy at QRM costs $450 for each treatment, with only one to three treatments required depending on the patient. Well-known Wanaka local Tony Rice has also benefited from PRP and the treatment has enabled him to continue with his 30-plus year career as a ski instructor at Cardrona ski field. "Tony suffered from arthritis in his right knee and we used PRP to reduce his pain and allow him to ski again. He’s not looked back since and he’s been able to get back to almost 100% fitness," said Ms Noble. PRP injections are currently administered in Queenstown at QRM by well-respected local Dr Hans Raetz, owner of the Skin Institute also based at Remarkables Park. "PRP injections are a new treatment in cosmetic medicine, with amazing results," said Dr Raetz. "As a treatment option using only the body’s own cells it’s certainly becoming more and more popular and Queenstown is at the forefront of exploring this exciting new frontier in medicine. "With very positive long term results now available with PRP, stem cell treatments are the next step." Platelet Rich Plasma therapy has been used for years by oral surgeons and plastic surgeons to enhance healing after bone grafts and face lifts, and has been effectively used to treat soft tissue injuries and joint pain since 2002. The notion of Queenstown as a destination for medical tourism and sports rehabilitation isn’t unheard of and Professor Boyd is using this week’s conference to gather support for the centre. "It’s an exciting development for Queenstown, New Zealand and the field of Stem Cell technology," said Professor Boyd.