I don't know about hope as much as common sense. Common sense tells us that we don't try, nothing will happen. At a recent meeting in Georgia, a quadriplegic man (Irv Naylor) made a very good point. He said that we have a fear of failure that is keeping us from trying. I agree with him. We should not be afraid. We should be setting up the clinical trials, using the best and safest therapies that we can identify. Centers who care should be joining the network, train together to make sure that we can collect credible data, and work with many laboratories to make sure that we have the best therapies.
A lot of people assume that I am doing this because of I want to push umbilical cord blood and lithium. Please understand that we did not invent this therapy. Umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells have been reported by many laboratories to be beneficial models of spinal cord injury but mostly when the cells have been transplanted directly to the spinal cord. These studies were done in China, Japan, Korea, and the U.S.A., and published in peer-reviewed journals. From our own limited experiments with umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells, I am convinced that the cells are safe and that they will bridge the injury site.
Lithium was found by colleagues at the University of Hong Kong to stimulate regeneration in the spinal cord. We found that lithium strongly stimulates umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells (UCBMC) to proliferate and to produce growth factors that stimulate regeneration. Both cord blood and lithium have been used for many years in many patients and have a long and strong record of safe use. HLA-matched cord blood cells are available from cord blood banks. In my opinion, these cells and lithium are the best combination therapy that we can use for the first trial of a therapy for chronic spinal cord injury. If UCBMC and lithium improves function in people with chronic spinal cord injury, that would be wonderful. We will continue to test better therapies. If it doesn't work, that would be important as well because we can say so and stop wasting time pursuing therapies that don't work.
Regarding funding, I am very tired of waiting for some sugar daddy or the government to give the money for the trials. I have now spent the better part of the past decade trying to encourage the government and attending fundraisers to raise money on spinal cord injury clinical trials. It has taken nearly 8 years to get the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act to be passed. I have participated in hundreds of fundraisers and little of the money has been spent on clinical trials. So, that is why I have decided to take the bull by the horn and just raise money directly for clinical trials of chronic spinal cord injury. We are not asking for big donations. The goal is to get many people who care about clinical trials for chronic spinal cord injury to give a dollar a day.
is the scar tissue not a problem for this regeneration?