Monthly Archives: December 2014

Vote for Ocata in the Discovery Science Mag “Story of the Year” Contest!

So here’s some news from the latest issue of Discovery magazine:

Discover’s 100 top stories of 2014 is jam-packed with the best in science from the past year. From space exploration to medicine, technology, paleontology and environment, we’ve got every field covered.

Highlights include a spacecraft’s rendezvous with a comet, the origins of the first Americans, how to defeat hackers and an inside look at the Ebola outbreak. Don’t miss any of the year’s big stories — pick up an issue now.

What do you think should have won top story? Vote now in our contest and be entered to win.

So you know what you need to do, right? First, go to this link:

Discover Magazine, Contest Edition.
Click on “vote now in our contest.” If you’re not already registered, just sign in with Facebook. Then you’ll go to the “vote” page with a number of pictures with captions underneath them. Click on the one that says Stem Cell Success: The cells make insulin and restore retinas. That’s Ocata’s work!

AND… you could win a prize! You definitely want to do this. 🙂 We’re ahead right now, but we need to stay in the lead, so go and VOTE.

Really, Harvard? REALLY???

You’re not going to believe this one. Scientists at Harvard have discovered a stem cell technique that supposedly REPLACES EXERCISE. O.o. Come ON!

Look at this quote:

“It’s the first step toward a pill that can replace the treadmill,” said co-author Chad Cowan, associate professor in Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology unit.

I’m very skeptical about this to begin with… all we know is that it supposedly works in mice, and we’ve been down that road before with stem cell trial results that didn’t translate to humans. But even if this pill worked (and that’s a HUGE if), it couldn’t replace all of the other benefits of exercise. Thin people who don’t exercise do not live any longer than overweight people who DO exercise (Steven Blair’s research on this question goes back over twenty years.) So statements like the one that Chad Cowan made are actually kind of irresponsible. Do we really need more excuses to not exercise? Can’t you just see someone reading that and thinking, “Oh, yay, now I don’t need to go to the gym anymore?” People don’t need anything else encouraging them to stay seated on the couch popping diet pills.

The State of Alzheimer’s Research

So I just finished Dancing With a Stranger, by Meryl Comer, and… it’s not exactly the feel-good book of the year. She is a caregiver for BOTH her husband AND her mother, and both have Alzheimer’s. Oh, yeah– and she has both of the genes associated with the disease. Just the fact that some people are able to keep going in the face of unbearable problems is hard to believe.

I’ve been looking into the current state of stem cell based AD trials, and here’s what I’ve found out. As of December 2014, there’s not a lot going on at the clinical level right now. There’s one trial in South Korea using cord blood-derived cells, but even though they completed the preliminary outpoint in 2012, there does not seem to have been any information released on what the outcome was, which isn’t very encouraging to me. Dr. Lanza’s article about preliminary interim results in Ocata’s RPE trials for AMD was released months into the study. So, for it to be fully two years after the completion of Phase I, and still nothing… not that great. Another study in China is now recruiting, but I’m not sure how much better that one looks.

There are a few meds in development that look promising… but the problem with drug trials is that there’s a long history of meds looking great for AD until they’re actually released, and then they turn out to not accomplish much of anything over the long term. I’ve seen a couple of drugs really help people in the early stages, but only for about one year (Aricept and Namenda are good examples.)

The most promising thing I’ve seen, IMHO, is Neuralstem’s animal studies on Alzheimer’s. They released results in October, and the conclusion is that their cells “rescued spatial learning and memory deficits in mice with an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease.” The problem obviously is that we’re only talking about mice at this point, and there is, unfortunately, a history of stem cell treatments looking wonderful in mice and then not translating to humans. Still, if I had more money, I would definitely invest in this company!

So that’s pretty much the AD story for now!

Working in hospice , Part One

So today was the wrap party for NaNo (National Novel Writing Month,) and I read from the stem cell book I worked on all through November. (Yep, it’s the planned book on this site, And the Blind Shall See: The Promise of Stem Cell Cures.) It came from the section on working in hospice with Alzheimer’s patients. People were really touched (and I’m not going to try to claim that it was from the amazing writing quality!) No, it’s because everyone can relate to the desperate need for cures for degenerative diseases. And yet it’s basically a situation where even the most educated people never know almost anything about what’s really going on with truly effective stem cell research (like Ocata’s.) If you’ve ever lived with the situation of caring for a relative who has a degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s, you know how utterly draining it is, how much it takes out of you. I saw it every single day when I worked hospice. And it isn’t just older people, believe me. There was one woman I knew who died of MS when she was only thirty-six years old. I’m going to put up a series of posts on working with patients who had degenerative diseases, and there’s quite a range of those. Alzheimer’s, other types of dementia, MS, COPD, severe arthritis, and on and on and on. These might not be the most cheerful stories in the world– but we’re working on a happy ending through regenerative medicine! 🙂