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Thread: Brief report of our visit to Kunming Hospital this week

  1. #1

    Brief report of our visit to Kunming Hospital this week

    As some of you may know from previous posts on the subject, neurosurgeons in Kunming (Yunnan Province in China) have transplanted Schwann cells into the spinal cord of people with spinal cord injury and have reported some improvement in function. A team of doctors from Hong Kong and Xi'an, with Suzanne Poon, visited the Hospital and evaluated the program. The attached picture is a group photo at the hospital at the beginning of the visit. We were requested not to provide details of the procedure because they are still evaluating the results and the team is still compiling a report to help the group improve its work. I will only briefly describe what we found. As we receive permission from the group to describe the results, I will try to post them.

    The hospital is the Chengdu Army Kunming General Hospital. Two neurosurgeons, Dr. Hui Zhu and Dr. Yansheng Liu, did the surgery. They transplanted Schwann cells isolated from aborted fetuses into the spinal cords of as many as 90 people with chronic spinal cord injury in the past four years. They believe that some of the patients are recovering function. The team heard the case histories of six patients and examined several of them, and also interviewed an additional 6 (or more) patients who were in hospital. They have an aggressive program of walking and rehabilitation at the center. Although some of the patients appear to be showing modest improvements in motor and sensory function, the impression of the team is that there needs to be much better documentation of neurological results before a definitive conclusion can be reached concerning the beneficial effects of the treatment. It was difficult to distinguish between the effects of surgery (untethering and decompression), the effects of intensive rehabilitation, and the pre-surgery and post-surgery recovery of the patients. We were told that there have been no mortalities in the case series. The patients were generallly enthusiastic and gratified that there were so many visitors interested in their progress. Much work still needs to be done to confirm the identity of the cells that were transplanted because there is little or no experience with fetal Schwann cells (in fact, there are questions whether peripheral nerves are myelinated in fetuses).

    I want to emphasize that there is not enough information for anyone to consider going to China for fetal Schwann cell transplants. What is of interest is that this spinal cord injury center has already accumulated substantial clinical experience with another new transplantation therapy involving a different source of cells that have not yet been tried even in animal studies. One of the most important aspect of this site visit was the opportunity for the doctors to exchange information about cell-based therapies of spinal cord injury. For example, on this trip, I heard of another group in Guangzhou who had transplanted neural stem cells into about 90 patients. There were intimations that there are other clinical groups that have tried a different cell transplantation strategies. During the three days that we spent in Kunming, the doctors spent many hours discussing treatments and getting to know each other.

    We are organizing a meeting this coming September to gather together the various groups doing cell-based therapies in China, to get the various groups to share information, agree on standardized and rigorous approaches to evaluating functional recovery, and to establish a SCI network to collaborate on testing cell-based therapies. There is a lot of work to do.

    Wise.

    P.S. I just replaced the picture with a slightly better ne. Here are the names of the people from memory.

    • Front row (left to right):
    Dr. Yansheng Liu (Kunming neurosurgeon)
    Dr. Gong Ju (leading neuroscientist in China)
    Kunming neurosurgeon
    Dr. John Liong (Hong Kong orthopedic surgeon)
    Mrs. Suzanne Poon
    Dr. Wise Young
    Dr. Kwok Fai So (neuroscientist and head of Anatomy Department of Hong Kong University HKU)
    Dr. Wutian Wu (neuroscientist at HKU)
    Kunming surgeon

    • Second Row (left to right)
    Head Nurse of the Neurosurgery Ward
    Nurse? (face hidden)
    Dr. Hui Zhu (Kunming neurosurgeon)
    Dr. Huang (Kunming neurosurgeon)
    Dr. Yatwah Wang (Hong Kong orthopedic surgeon)
    Dr. Siwei Yau (Xi'an neuroscientist)
    Miss Liu Yu
    Dr. ZhuoJing Luo (Xi'an orthopedic surgeon)
    Dr. Lily Young (face partly hidden)
    Mr. Edmund Chan (far right back)

    [This message was edited by Wise Young on 07-11-04 at 02:04 AM.]
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  2. #2
    Wow, cute girl... wait, she's standing by Dr. Young. Could she be the infamous Mrs. Young?

    No offense meant, of course. My apologies if I did offend.

    -Steven
    ...and he'll pretend that, he's somewhere else, so far and clear, about 2,000 miles, from here

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Steven, she is a cutie! I noticed her too--and I'm a woman.

    No, she's not Lily Young, who happens to be quite beautiful herself. Maybe she's available?

  4. #4
    Dr. Young - the chick magnet. Cute girl.

    ...another new transplantation therapy involving a different source of cells that have not yet been tried even in animal studies.
    A different source for schwann cells or a different type of cell?

    Thanks.

  5. #5
    Senior Member mattcorregan's Avatar
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    Dr. Young,

    What about combination therapies? Why are results from say the Miami Project not being aggressively pursued by some of these groups in China? If they are already transplanting Schwann cells why don't they add rolipram and cAMP which is apparently readily available? Or were combination therapies among the approaches discussed during the 3-day meeting? Are people waiting for results to be reproduced in rats from another group?

  6. #6
    Senior Member DA's Avatar
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    Originally posted by martha2:

    Steven, she is a cutie! I noticed her too--and I'm a woman.

    No, she's not Lily Young, who happens to be quite beautiful herself. Maybe she's available?
    check out the cool guy, the 4th to dr youngs right. i bet he pimps all the women.

    dr young gets to travel the world. hurry up with the cure so i can too.

  7. #7
    What's with all the military looking uniforms?

    _____
    Learn from the mistakes of others, you won't live long enough to make all of them yourself.

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    Senior Member Schmeky's Avatar
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    MattC,

    I assume you know the Miami Project success is based on acutes, not chronics. Acute injuries are soon to treatable/repairable.

    Chronics should be next and China is going to be the area we'll have to travel to in the beginning. Their proving that single modalities alone aren't the best method, but consequently are safe. This is a huge human step since no other country has/is doing more to treat people than China.

    Let's don't forget the Will Ambler group should be very close to a combination human trial for chronics in the USA.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Schmeky's Avatar
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    Dr. Young,

    Who's the goofy lookin' guy in the front row with the beard and the blue shirt

  10. #10
    Senior Member poonsuzanne's Avatar
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    The girl in the black outfit was the lucky girl who had the greatest honor to stand between our Dr. Young and Prof. John Leong, a leading orthopeadic in HK,in the group photo!




    [This message was edited by Suzanne Poon on 07-11-04 at 10:17 PM.]

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