"They call it a really good placebo effect," Lawrence said. "Whatever, if it's a placebo effect, I want some more."
By Erica Molina Johnson / El Paso Times, Posted: 08/07/2009 12:00:00 AM
Lawrence Brown III looks at the number "10" on a family laptop and tells his mother Georgina Brown what the number is as part of a daily exercise to see if his sight is improving. (Ruben R. Ramirez / El Paso Times)
EL PASO -- Lawrence E. Brown III easily spotted and then picked up a bottle of sunblock a friend dropped Wednesday afternoon.
For most people, it is insignificant.
But for Lawrence, 16, who has been blind since birth, it was an exceptional moment.
For him and his family, a gamble on a Chinese stem-cell procedure to treat his blindness is beginning to pay off.
The procedure is not available in this country and is met with skepticism by many American doctors. No treatment exists for Brown's condition, said Dr. Michael Repka, pediatric ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.Brown was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, an underdevelopment of the nerves in his eyes.
Before his family left to Qingdao, China, on June 20, his vision was little more than limited perception of light, color and shadowy masses.
He and his mother and sister spent six weeks in China so that he could undergo nine stem-cell transfusions intended to stimulate the growth of his optic nerves.
The cells were delivered intravenously on his arm or injected directly into his spine. He received acupuncture and electric wave therapy to help stimulate the cells' work.
"I didn't expect for it to go as far as it has, and I'm just wondering what the heck is going to happen in the next nine months," Lawrence said Wednesday.
He jokes that he is part Chinese now that he has received the transfusions.
Doctors in China told him the stem cells would continue to do their work over the next nine to 12 months. He is exercising and taking vitamins to help the umbilical stem cells have the greatest effect possible."Every day for the next year, every time I wake up, I wonder if something new is going to happen," Law rence said. "Every day holds a new possibility."
To measure his progress, Georgina A. Brown shows her son flashcards.
On one card, Lawrence saw six blobs a few weeks ago. Now, he can see six circles.
On another card, a nearly 7-inch-tall letter L that he first saw in China now seems a little too big when held about seven inches from his face.
He can now make out a nearly 5-inch-tall letter B from about the same distance on a computer screen.
His mom quizzes him often with the cards or other objects that happen to be around.
Lawrence has always read in Braille and is just starting to learn the letters by sight.
He is spotting colors more easily and is beginning to discern the different textures and angles of objects.
And his nystagmus, or rapid and involuntary eye movements, has lessened dramatically.
"I didn't expect this (all improvements), but I hoped for it," he said.
He hasn't yet been evaluated by a doctor to gauge his improvement, but he said he didn't need the professional confirmation to know the procedure is working.
The Browns said they're not optimistic that Lawrence's local doctor will declare the procedure a success.
"There's a running joke (in China) with the staff. They call it a really good placebo effect," Lawrence said. "Whatever, if it's a placebo effect, I want some more."
While in China, they tried to make the most of the new cultural experience.
With the help of a translator or simply through hand movements reminiscent of a game of charades, the family navigated their way through markets and parks and visited a temple, zoo and aquarium.
They shied away from eating much meat because it often appeared uncovered and not refrigerated at neighborhood markets.
At street markets, they saw displays of animal internal organs, roasted dog heads, bugs on skewers and stinky durian fruits.
Georgina Brown said it was much like being on Anthony Bourdain's "No Re servations" television show that appears on the Travel Channel.
"We were going to eat bugs, but I couldn't do it," Lawrence said.
Georgina Brown said she was excited that her family could have that cultural experience.
"I think it gave them a different outlook on the culture itself to know how much we have here and how fortunate we are," she said.
They learned a little more about the world than many visitors to China by socializing with other families at the hospital who traveled there from countries such as Libya, Switzerland, Ireland, England and Romania.
"This experience also gave my children an experience to see all the different children. There are children with SMA (spinal muscular atrophy). Children who can't see, can't talk, can't walk."
The Brown family returned from China on July 31. Lawrence has spent all day every day this week at band practice at El Paso High School. He will start his senior year of high school there in two weeks.
Meanwhile, the family is looking for someone to continue his acupuncture treatments in El Paso. They're also in the hunt for a power converter that will allow them to plug Lawrence's electric wave therapy machine into American power outlets.
He is hopeful that he can return to China next summer to undergo another round of stem-cell transfusions.
"There is nothing that I'm going to go through that I can't handle," Lawrence said. "You have to look at life that way, or else you can just sit and cry in a corner."
via Stem-cell therapy shows results - El Paso Times
Stem cells truly can do virtually ANY repair job in the human or canine or feline or equine body... http://repairstemcell.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/lions-and-puppys-and-horseys-oh-my/ -dg
By SCOTT DUNN, SUN TIMES STAFFP
A 12-year-old Gordon Setter named Olli made Owen Sound veterinary history recently when he received (adult) stem cell injections to fix a knee ligament and ease his arthritis
.A couple of tablespoons of Olli's own fat were sent to a private San Diego lab called Vet- Stem for stem cell extraction.
The next day the "regenerative cells" were returned preloaded in syringes. Owen Sound Dr. Melissa Boyle injected the cells into Olli's damaged and arthritic left knee and right hip. She's one of 26 vets in Canada qualified by the company to do this.
By Friday, 11 days after the injections, the dog was showing signs of improvement
, said Dr. Deborah Boyd, an Owen Sound veterinarian who owns Olli and the clinic where Olli received the injections...
There are many many articles about the use of stem cells for animals. (see the list at the bottom of this article)
Beneficial results have been shown in dogs, horses...even mountain lions.
The joke is definitely on us that Rover, Mr. Ed and...(what's a name for a mountain lion??)...will get treated for their diseases while we humans can not...
except for outside of the US of course. -dg
Stem Cell Research on Horses Holds Promise for Human Athletes
DAVIS, Calif. (KCBS) -- The repair of horses’ tendons, bones and ligaments with stem cell injections now being carried out at the Regenerative Medicine Lab at UC Davis holds promise for treating human athletes.
The limbs of human beings and horses have many biological similarities, meaning the breakthrough in veterinary medicine could someday help athletes heal from similar injuries much more quickly, said a leading stem cell researcher, Dr. Jan Nolta.
Listen KCBS' Dave Padilla reports
“The results that we get from treating the horses can be almost directly applied to human athletes,” she told KCBS reporter Dave Padilla. Once the horse study is completed, the team would then petition the FDA to test a similar treatment in humans.
Cupertino show horse owner Dick Randall had a horse with a serious ligament injury that had threatened the animal's career. But within just 30 days of receiving the treatment, he said the horse showed drastic improvement.
"He was ready to go back to the show within 90 days," said Randall.
Neither the treatment nor the research involves human embryonic stem cells. The UC Davis lab is one of four university-based veterinary stem cell labs in the United States.
via KCBS - Stem Cell Research on Horses Holds Promise for Human Athletes
Why am I suddenly thinking of Dr Seuss'"Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Ruppy the transgenic puppy at 10 days old. Even under natural light the red protein can be seen in the skin and fur. The next image shows Ruppy under ultraviolet lightPhoto: Byeong Chun Lee
By New Scientist
April 26, 2009
A cloned beagle named Ruppy – short for Ruby Puppy – is the world's first transgenic dog. She and four other beagles all produce a fluorescent protein that glows red under ultraviolet light.
A team led by Byeong-Chun Lee of Seoul National University in South Korea created the dogs by cloning fibroblast cells that express a red fluorescent gene produced by sea anemones.
Lee and stem cell researcher Woo Suk Hwang were part of a team that created the first cloned dog, SnuppyMovie Camera, in 2005. Much of Hwang's work on human cells turned out to be fraudulent, but Snuppy was not, an investigation later concluded.
This new proof-of-principle experiment should open the door for transgenic dog models of human disease, says team member CheMyong Ko of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. "The next step for us is to generate a true disease model," he says.
However, other researchers who study domestic dogs as stand-ins for human disease are less certain that transgenic dogs will become widespread in research.
Dogs already serve as models for diseases such as narcolepsy, certain cancers and blindness. And a dog genome sequence has made the animals an even more useful model by quickening the search for disease-causing genes. Most dog genetics researchers limit their work to gene scans of DNA collected from hundreds of pet owners.
Making a glowing dog
Lee's team created Ruppy by first infecting dog fibroblast cells with a virus that inserted the fluorescent gene into a cell's nucleus. They then transferred the fibroblast's nucleus to another dog's egg cell, with its nucleus removed. After a few hours dividing in a Petri dish, researchers implanted the cloned embryo into a surrogate mother.
Starting with 344 embryos implanted into 20 dogs, Lee's team ended up with seven pregnancies. One fetus died about half way through term, while an 11-week-old puppy died of pneumonia after its mother accidentally bit its chest. Five dogs are alive, healthy and starting to spawn their own fluorescent puppies, Ko says.
via CapeCodTimes.com - Cloned dog glows under ultraviolet light
To read complete story visit New Scientist
call me conservative but I think they all go under the list of things not to fool with when they may have gone bad. I'll wait for the next batch, thanks. -dg
Stem cells stored in broken freezer given OK for use in N.L. cancer patient
HOT DOG GONE BAD?
s - Winnipeg Free Press
THE CANADIAN PRESS
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland and Labrador's largest health board says stem cells stored in a freezer that broke down last year can still be safely used for transplants in cancer patients.
Last September, a freezer storing the stem cells of 29 cancer patients set at -150 C had begun to rise in temperature. The cells were transferred to two other freezers - one set at -150 C, the other at -85 C.
Hematologist Dr. Kirsty Tompkins of the Eastern Health authority said today that a sample of the transferred cells was sent to the University of Alberta to determine whether the cells were damaged in the transferral process.
Tompkins says the retesting has led Eastern Health to conclude that the cells are still safe to use for transplants.
She says the patients have been notified of the results of the retests.
Six of the 29 cancer patients have since died, but their deaths are not related to the malfunctioning stem cell freezer.
via Stem cells stored in broken freezer given OK for use in N.L. cancer patients - Winnipeg Free Press