Bynum's knee treatment gains acceptance in U.S.

Chris Renna : Regenokine is "most effective."
Chris Renna : Regenokine is "most effective."
Posted: August 18, 2012

While 76ers center Andrew Bynum has chosen to have the creator of the noninvasive, nonsurgical procedure administer the injections to his knees that he hopes will extend his career next month in Dusseldorf, Germany, the procedure - known as regenokine treatment - has been administered in the United States for almost a decade.

"Regenokine is the most effective treatment for joint problems caused by osteoarthritis," said Chris Renna, a specialist in preventative medicine. "It is corroborated by independent studies published in 2003 in the Journal of Osteoarthritis and Orthopedics."

The treatment was first cleared for widespread use in Germany in 2003. More recently, medical boards in the United States have cleared the procedure in states such as California, Texas, and New York, among others.

Renna founded Lifespan Medicine in 1992, with offices in Santa Monica, Calif., and Dallas. Renna has authored a book called The End of Pain with Peter Wehling, who discovered the procedure at the University of Pittsburgh - along with Harvard molecular orthopedist Chris Evans. The book describes the procedure and details its medical efficacy. Wehling will perform the procedure on Bynum.

"It's all there in the reports," said Renna, who first began referring American patients to Wehling in 2003. "Those studies demonstrated significant improvement in the knee, spine, and later it was used in multiple joints. They were placebo, double-blind studies, and the procedure demonstrates significant success."

Worldwide, about 60,000 patients have received the treatment. Renna refers to it as a "game-changing treatment for back pain, joint pain, osteoarthritis, and other inflammatory joint conditions." There is evidence that horses, too, benefit from the treatment that Bynum's former teammate, Kobe Bryant, will get for a second time before the season begins.

It is more commonly referred to in the veterinary world as orkothine therapy. Dean Richardson, chief of large-animal surgery at Penn, said that the procedure, though not a cure-all, has produced significant benefits to horses suffering from inflammatory joint pain.

"There is reasonable science behind it," Richardson said. "It is certainly not magic, but it has been widely used in tens of thousands of injections. If you need a joint replacement, it's not going to make you not need a joint replacement. But it is probably best used for athletes and athletic horses."

The nonsurgical procedure is really a form of therapy. Bynum will arrive in Germany and have his blood drawn. Later in the day, the blood will be spun in a test tube. A serum will be separated from the blood and injected back into Bynum's knees.

In total, Bynum should receive about five injections over a period of five days. No recovery time is required, so Bynum should be ready to go when the Sixers gather in the first week of October for training camp.

The treatment is not covered by insurance and will cost Bynum about $12,000 out of pocket. Renna would like to see the day when it is covered by insurance companies and available to all who struggle with osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

"It's groundbreaking," Renna said. "The unfortunate truth is that because of its expense and status, the treatment is for the 1 and 2 percent of our society. The hope is that in a few years it becomes a treatment for the 100 percent."


Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer. Read his blog, "Deep Sixer," at www.philly.com/deepsixer

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