Monthly Archives: September 2015

Ocata publishes Phase 2 trial protocol!!

Here it is!! On clinicaltrials.gov!! YES and YAY. We are getting closer and closer to a cure for the most common cause of blindness in the developed world. There’s only one possible response to this… make a pumpkin pie! 🙂 (Oh, okay, I was already going to do that anyway…) But I’ll let you know how it turned out. For a truly excellent article explaining what this means, I’ll send you to the one and only Dr. Hartman’s (aka Deadally’s) analysis on Seeking Alpha:
Ocata Therapeutics Is An Official Phase 2 Biotech: AMD Efficacy Study Design Details

And here’s a comment I just left on the article:

Thanks so much for this excellent article, Dr. Hartman! 🙂 So many people could be helped this way. And as I know all too well… NOT everyone who has some form of MD is ninety years old. I’m certainly not, but it does get worse than that. Every time I’ve been at Casey Eye Institute, I’ve seen small children with Stargardt’s. It’s one of the saddest sights you could ever imagine. I know I’ll never forget the time I saw a baby with bandages over its face being wheeled down the hall in a huge cot enclosed by bars. What Ocata is doing will ultimately provide the opportunity to save people of all ages from blindness.

My fun trip to Casey Eye Institute this week, and the results…

So on Wednesday, I sat in the waiting room of Casey Eye Institute again, heart pounding, hands numb with terror where my fingers clutched at the wooden arms of the chair. (And if you think *that* sounds bad, then you should have seen me every time I had to go there four years ago!) I was surrounded by little old ladies in wheelchairs and inching along on walkers, their faces full of stubbornness and determination, with the flashing eyes and set lips of survivors. As usual, there were a couple of children, too. I tried to never look at the children, sitting quietly by their mothers, their faces hidden behind thick glasses, their faces filled with the weary patience of eight or nine year olds who have spent too much of their young lives in doctor’s offices and waiting rooms. There’s a lot more of this type of description in my memoir, but you know, I think we’ll stop there for the purposes of a blog post.

The point is, I went to Casey again, which I have to do twice a year. As usual, I would rather have been chased off a cliff by rabid wolves. But I sat in the chair while the retinal scanner went up and down my eyes; I sat in another chair while the cute and chirpy assistant stuck a dubious-looking metal thing meant to measure glaucoma right up against my eyeball, and I sat in the really fancy chair as I waited for Dr. Lauer to come in and interpret it all. (Hint: meditation mp3’s don’t really help in this situation.) And the news was…

(drumroll)

IT’S ALL GOOD!

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly *good*, but my vision is stable. There’s nothing new going on (which would mean new and bad; definitely not new and good.) The first doctor who looked at my retinas through that horrible bright slit lamp thingy was amazed that I hadn’t needed a new Lucentis injection since 2011. This really isn’t normal, and nobody seems to know why the first injections have held up so long. Of course, nobody ever exactly identified the original disease, either. 😛 So I was set free that day to skip out into the sunshine of the wide world outside OHSU, as people looked at me and wondered if I’d escaped from the psych ward.

But it did make me think about a few things.

Yes, this is good news. But there’s never any guarantee. I really do live one day at a time. And I know how lucky I am compared to a lot of people. Most younger patients are not helped by anti-VEGF drugs at all. It makes me a very impatient patient when I think about all the glowing news in the past few days,. Very little of the gushing is supported by fact. The much-ballyhooed treatment at Moorfields isn’t just in the first experimental stages. It’s also dangerous, invasive, scarring, risky to the survival of the retina, and extremely expensive. Why is there so much over-the-top excitement about it?? It’s exactly like the wet AMD treatment in Japan earlier this year, the one based on IPSC’s rushed to the clinic dangerously fast. The study was abruptly stopped, and nobody ever got a straight answer as to why. Other scientists have skirted the issue, showing a lot of professional courtesy in not confronting Dr. Takahashi, I’m sure, but not much regard for the rights of patients.

It’s hard to wait. But it’s good to know that we are waiting for something that works. That doesn’t set aside the issue of what may or may not happen in Phase II. But it does acknowledge the fact that we know that for the people in the Ocata study, the treatment to date has worked. I, for one, am over the excited gushing surrounding experimental treatments that haven’t even begun to do that much. Because we, the patients, deserve better than this. Everyone going through their own personal hell at Casey on Wednesday deserves better. I believe that we will get it. I have learned to wait, God only knows how. I haven’t been to any mountaintop, but I have seen a glimpse of it. We will get there, and we will do it together. So I say to everyone,… have faith, and hold on!

First Patient Enrolled in Ocata Therapeutics’ Phase 2 Study for Dry AMD Results from First Cohort Expected in the Second Quarter of 2016

Here’s the press release.
(STARES at today’s news)

*^()&)*(&)*(&)*( I DON’T EVEN.
(RUNS around yelling incoherently, but happily.)

INFINITE YAY.
THIS… this is what we’ve been waiting for. Ocata is officially now going to start Phase 2 of the AMD study.

There’s so much to be said here… it’ll have to get done later on… but for now… HAPPY. Just plain… happy. 🙂

Ocata gets a SECOND NIH grant!!

I’m on the last day of vacation, so there won’t be a long post about this one, but basically… Ocata now has not one but TWO extremely recent NIH grants. This one is for Retinitis Pigmentosa. Now, I’m going to make a shameful admission… I’m an America’s Next Top Model addict. ;)ANTM doesn’t make it onto science blogs too often (or even science-y layperson blogs), but there’s a good reason here. Back in the fourth season, there was a contestant named Amanda. She was slowly going blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is why I think the judges didn’t allow her to win. It was a very sad story and actually makes it hard to watch reruns of that season. By this time, I think she’s gone completely blind. But this grant shows that there is hope for her and everyone else who has the same terrible condition.

Anyway, check out the story:

Ocata Therapeutics Receives SBIR Grant from the NIH’s National Eye Institute to Develop Proprietary Photoreceptor Progenitor Cell Therapy for Retinitis Pigmentosa