ONE GIANT QUIET LEAP TOWARD PARALYSIS CURE
by Don C. Reed
Moments ago I received the following announcement: partly from my son Roman Reed, the rest from Kevin McCormack, spokesman for the California stem cell program. Their part starts at the bottom of the page.
It is about clinical trials with embryonic stem cells to take us one giant quiet leap forward toward healing spinal cord injury paralysis. It is simple, and breath-taking.
First, remember the seeming impossibility of alleviating paralysis.The first mention of spinal cord injury paralysis was on in pictograms on the walls of an Egyptian tomb: saying, “of paralyzed soldiers, deny them water, let them die, there is nothing that can be done.”
You might remember the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act of 1999, (Dutra-Fremont) named after my paralyzed son, and his refusal to accept the life-sentence of paralysis. “Roman’s Law” funded the human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research which began this.
This happened because of a combination of patient advocacy, the amazing science of Hans Keirstead, the determination of Tom Okarma, Jane Lebkowski and Fred Wirth, Geron and Astherias biotherapeutics, the genius of Bob Klein who dreamed and led Prop 71, and the thousands of volunteers whose hard work made it possible.
The phase one (safety) part of the trial went perfectly. Newly paralyzed people were injected with a minimal dosage of the hesc cells. They were not hurt by the treatment, which is the purpose of the test.
And now? Phase 1/2a, for safety and activity: larger doses.
Perhaps, for the first time in the history of the world, paralyzed patients will receive improvement.
The trials will happen at the great Shepherd Center in Atlanta, one of perhaps seven sites in all.
Listen to Roman, then to CIRM’s spokeman, and look up the two attachments for more in-depth information.
And if you want an in-depth look at the adventure, check out my new book, “STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond: How Ordinary People Can Fight Back Against the Crushing Burden of Chronic Disease—with a Posthumous Foreword by Christopher Reeve”.
Available at Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/hkw4woc
From Roman Reed: “BREAKING NEWS: The 1st ever US FDA Approved Human Clinical Trials of hESC Stem Cell Research that was pioneered by brilliant Dr.Hans Keirstead with funding from Roman's Law has Reopened Patient Enrollment!!
“These trials, now called the Asterias Trials, will begin selecting newly paralyzed patients....”—Roman Reed, personal communication
From Kevin McCormack, CIRM spokesman:
I wanted to share some very good news with you that makes it a doubly big day for Asterias Biotherapeutics, and hopefully a momentous day for you and CiRM.
This morning Asterias announced that the Shepherd Center in Atlanta has begun enrollment of patients in the company's clinical trial to treat patients with spinal cord injuries. CIRM is funding the California portion of this trial (that's expected to get underway later this year). As you probably know this is a continuation and advancement of the work that Geron started and then stopped doing some five years ago. So it's pretty exciting stuff. I'm attaching a link to the press release that Asterias sent out today announcing the news.
I'm also attaching a link to video of the Asterias team ringing the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. It's quite an honor and, as you can see from the faces of the team, it's quite a thrill too.
Feel free to share all this with anyone you think might be interested.
Sr. Director Public Communications & Patient Advocate Outreach
California Institute for Regenerative Medicine