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Thread: Summary of "Meet the Scientists" at UC Irvine

  1. #1

    Summary of "Meet the Scientists" at UC Irvine

    On Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend the "Meet the Scientists Forum" at UC Irvine. I wanted to share my impressions and hopefully the others in attendance will add to them.

    There was a lot of information presented but I'll share what I thought to be the 3 most interesting points:

    1) Embryonic Stem Cell transplants in acute injuries in early 2006. Hans Kierstaad is currently on schedule to be the first scientist in the United States to transplant ESCs into someone with spinal cord injury. The Miami Project is close on his heels.

    2) Regenerative therapies performed in primate models at UCSD. It is rumored that Mark Tuszynski is already on his way to producing chronic primate models for study at UCSD. Primate models are important for study because their anatomy, size, and function most closely mirror our own. With Kierstaad performing first generation therapies on humans by next year, I can only hope that combination therapies will be applied to the chronic primate models during the same timeframe.

    3) Studies on the management of pain after Spinal Cord Injury. Recently there has been a lot of talk about pain after SCI, and specifically pain post-cure. I thought people would like to know that there are researchers performing studies on this. UCLA will be researching the pain that occurs from lumbar/sacral injuries. They will be tearing the lumbosacral ventral motor roots from a rat model and studying the underlying mechanisms of the pain response. In addition they will explore reimplantation strategies to place these ventral roots back into the spinal cord.

    At UC Irvine, David Luo will be studying the genes and proteins of the spinal cord. After SCI these genes change their activity and Dr. Luo believes that these changes may contribute to the development of chronic pain. By understanding which genes are responsible for pain after spinal cord injury, new strategies for pain management can be developed.

    There were about 200 people in attendance and around 30-40 of them were in wheelchairs. The importance of our presence at such events cannot be overstated. While some of the presentations drifted towards the abstract, members of the audience stressed the importance of time and getting therapies into human beings. Roman Reed's father also spoke about Prop 71 and how it is coming under fire from all levels. People everywhere are still characterizing it as contributing to "killing babies " The opposition is well funded and it is imperative that everyone refute any of the "killing baby" claims. Just about everyone here is capable of writing their newspaper an editorial on the promise of stem cells and the ethics behind them. No matter where you are, there IS something you can do.

    [This message was edited by buckwheat on 03-13-05 at 08:56 PM.]

  2. #2
    Senior Member Leo's Avatar
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    thanks buckwheat,

    Chris C, what's up

    "All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
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  3. #3
    Banned Faye's Avatar
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    Originally posted by buckwheat:

    There were about 200 people in attendance and around 30-40 of them were in wheelchairs. The importance of our presence at such events cannot be understated. While some of the presentations drifted towards the abstract, members of the audience stressed the importance of time and getting therapies into human beings. Roman Reed's father also spoke about Prop 71 and how it is coming under fire from all levels. People everywhere are still characterizing it as contributing to "killing babies " The opposition is well funded and it is imperative that everyone refute any of the "killing baby" claims. Just about everyone here is capable of writing their newspaper an editorial on the promise of stem cells and the ethics behind them. No matter where you are, there IS something you can do.
    Thank you for being there for us Buckwheat!!

    I love your update, and in particular hearing about the Tuszynski primate studies.

    Glad Don Reed was there too to talk about prop 71.

    ~ People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about. - Franklin D. Roosevelt ~ www.CureParalysisNow.org

  4. #4
    Excellent post. Thanks for the info. I needed to see that today.

    It's kinda funny when people say, "don't get your hopes up"...because it's all about hope ~Michael J. Fox

  5. #5
    Thank you for posting, Noah. Do you know of any other upcoming talks such as the one you attended?

    "We are only as helpless as we perceive ourselves to be"
    http://adrenalinechick.friendpages.com

  6. #6
    Hey Busk, thanx for taking time to post your thoughts and what you saw and heard. It's appreciated.

    Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know that, so it goes on flying anyways--Mary Kay Ash

  7. #7
    Noah - thanks, and a pleasure spending time with you.

    Leo, I'll post some thoughts a little later today as I'm a little short on time this morning.

    Let me just say that the UC Irvine - Reeve Research center will, imo, trump MP in terms of human clinical trial application for acutes and chronics in 2006. There is a lot of very good news but still much work to be done. These guys, however, are on the cutting edge.

    Onward and upward.

  8. #8
    Thx, Noah. Very exciting. More reason for our government to fund a clinical trial network.

    Chris C--can't wait to hear your comments, as well.

    I'm glad you guys were there.

    Sue

    "Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean." C. Reeve

  9. #9
    Adding to my previous post...

    The first day - Wednesday - also included the following:

    a) Introduction to sci research.
    b) Bench to Bedside - collaborative efforts.
    c) Proposition 71 - CA's Stem Cell Initiative
    d) Stem Cell research and SCI
    e) California primate consortium
    f) Rehabilitation and Exercise
    g) Adaptive Technologies
    h) Research update - glial scar, Nogo story, etc.
    i) Open Q&A

    As Noah had pointed out there were probably 30-40 wheelers in attendance along with another 50-60 spectators as well as 50+ researchers, post-graduates, scientists, advocates.

    After the above presentations the meeting continued well into the evening including one-on-one meetings with the scientists, a core laboratory review, a discussion of future directions, a poster review of maybe 25 sci related projects and a dinner reception until 9:30pm. It was a long and very productive day as I didn't get back to my hotel until 10:30pm or so.

    Day 2 started at roughly 8:30am with Mark Tuszynski's "Axonal plasticity and regeneration in the primate spinal cord" kicking things off. From there the day included approximately 10 additional presentations ending at 4:30pm with "Structure of proteins that inhibit CNS repair: Nogo and its receptor" by Melanie Cocco.

    All in all another very productive and enlightening day given that every presentation given and attended by were all focused on SCI recovery / cure. My experience, different from the neuroscience meeting in November, was that everyone in attendance - especially the scientists - were extremely confident, enthusiastic, optimistic, realistic and aggressive in their sci research approaches. I got a sense of tremendous focus and collaboration from the research community. I think that everyone in this field realizes the importance of cooperation vs. competition as well as understands that there are many pieces to this sci puzzle and that no one laboratory or scientist will or does have the answer. The magic is truly in interactive translational collaboration.

    Added personal thoughts:

    I had the opportunity to take a VIP tour of the laboratory upon arrival early Wednesday. I spent over two hours talking to many of the Reeve research technicians and researchers. The conclusion included a glimpse and birds eye view of embryonic stem cells under a microscope and their morphication into nueral stem cells - quite a sight and realization that we are ever so close.

    Probably though the most important part of my trip, and well worth the 2,000 miles of driving I did to attend, was my meeting for 45 minutes or so with Hans Keirstead who is the integral part and head of the Reeve laboratory. With his jeans and quicksilver shirt Hans could easily be mistaken for a surfer with a penchant for neurobiology. But after a minute or so you quickly realize that this young, aggressive, intelligent and practical guy has his head on straight and more importantly understands the desperation within the sci community and the urgency to which he has put his team under in bringing their work to human clinical trial. Its happening folks and quickly. With very little additional funds (approx. $2mm) there will be human clinical trials for acutes and shortly thereafter chronics in early/mid 2006. And once these trials are under way, the model decided upon, and the infrastructure built I believe that UC Irvine will be THE place that the others (I'm thinking MP) will follow. Hans is our guy. He is the horse we should ride and back.

    And finally, as Noah mentioned, THE most important thing you and we can do as a community is get out there and tell your story. Instead of 30-40 there should have been 300-400. Instead of one Don Reed there should be a dozen scattered across the country. And instead of me, Noah, Bob Yant, and a few others speaking to and demanding the attention of these scientists we all should be. Get out there, make your voice heard and your desires listened to. The more you (we) get involved the faster a cure will come.

    And for those of you fundraising please give the Reeve research center at UC Irvine a good look. I think they're worth it and will be focusing my efforts on getting Hans that $2 million he needs.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or would like additional details. Thanks.

    Onward and Upward.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Schmeky's Avatar
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    Chris C.,

    Thank you for your effort. The time and expense in visiting is a great investment on your part.

    Sounds promising.

    P.S. Very well written, you obviously didn't go to school in Louisiana

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