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Thread: 'I think Allison will walk again' Dr.Kessler

  1. #1
    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Thumbs up 'I think Allison will walk again' Dr.Kessler

    'I think Allison will walk again'
    (http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/health/261647,CST-NWS-dad18.article)

    February 18, 2007

    BY JIM RITTER Health Reporter

    Dr. John Kessler was working in his office when he received word his daughter, Allison, had been seriously hurt in a skiing accident.


    Kessler is a neurologist. And after talking to Allison's doctor on the phone, he immediately realized she would be paralyzed from the waist down.
    His fourth child -- and only daughter -- was a month shy of her 16th birthday.
    Kessler almost passed out. He had to lie on the floor. "It was the worst moment of my life," he recalled. "There isn't even a second place."
    That night, Kessler made a promise to himself. He would spend the rest of his career researching a cure for the types of spinal cord injuries that have paralyzed Allison and so many others.
    That was six years ago. Today, Kessler heads up an 18-person team at Northwestern University that is slowly edging toward a cure. Kessler's lab already has restored some leg movements in mice with spinal cord injuries. Within two years, he plans to begin a clinical trial in humans.
    This initial trial is expected to restore only partial movement and feeling. It wouldn't be a cure, but it's a start.
    Kessler, 60, said he's "absolutely convinced" that during his lifetime, doctors will be able to repair severed spinal cords.
    "I think Allison will walk again," he said.
    The family has caught the attention of filmmakers. The documentary maker behind "Hoop Dreams" is currently working with the family.
    Allison Kessler sees her father's career change as a sign of his "unfaltering love. He would do anything for me."
    'Allow science to use them'
    The spinal cord contains millions of wirelike fibers called axons that carry messages between the brain and the body. Kessler compares a spinal cord injury to cutting an incredibly complicated telephone cable containing millions of wires.
    Among the avenues his lab is exploring is stem cell therapy. A stem cell is a sort of all-purpose cell that, it's hoped, could be programmed to stimulate the growth of axons and their protective coatings.
    The stem cells that show the most promise, Kessler said, are derived from human embryos. Pro-life groups oppose the research because embryos are destroyed in the process, and President Bush has severely curtailed federal funding. (Kessler's lab also uses noncontroversial adult stem cells.)
    Kessler passionately defends embryonic stem cell research. The frozen embryos, no larger than the period at the end of this sentence, come from fertility clinics. They're donated by parents who, for various reasons, have stopped trying to get pregnant.
    "Either throw them in the trash, or allow science to use them to save lives," Kessler said. "That's the choice."
    'I pretty much knew'
    Kessler has been studying the nervous system for more than 30 years. Before he switched to spinal cord research, he was studying ways to treat peripheral nerve damage from conditions such as diabetes.
    That was before the January day in 2001 when Allison went skiing with her boyfriend. She was a superb athlete who excelled in soccer, lacrosse and ice skating as well as skiing.
    Allison was going over ski jumps when she hit one that was eroded. She popped up into the air in an awkward position and landed on her back with her legs crossed.
    When she tried to uncross her legs, they wouldn't move. It was at that moment, she recalled, "that I pretty much knew what had happened."
    Allison went into surgery, and when she woke up, her first question was whether she would be able to have children.
    "Yes, sweetheart, you will," Kessler answered.
    Allison remained upbeat. When friends visited, she would crack jokes to cheer them up. "She was quite remarkable, my daughter," Kessler said.
    There were dark days, of course. But everyone has bad days, she said, "and I'm not going to let the bad days wreck my life."
    Allison was a student at Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school in Connecticut. She came home for rehabilitation and fell months behind in her schoolwork.
    But she caught up and graduated with her class. And she did well enough to get into Harvard University. She's a 22-year-old senior now, majoring in biology. She plans to work for a year, then go to medical school.
    She has been coxswain on Harvard's crew team. She has traveled to Central America by herself. She has flown to London for New Year's Eve.
    'On the same wavelength'
    Allison has accepted being in a wheelchair "better than I have," Kessler said. "My daughter keeps telling me to get over it."
    Kessler and Allison "are as close as a father and a daughter can be," said her mother, Dr. Marilyn Kessler. "They're on the same wavelength a lot."
    They like to play chess and backgammon together and watch their favorite movies over and over again. Allison said her father "is a wonderful scientist and a great dad."
    But she is less certain that she will walk again. "I think of it as a nice dream," she said. "But I'm not sitting around waiting for it to happen."

  2. #2
    "The stem cells that show the most promise, Kessler said, are derived from human embryos. Pro-life groups oppose the research because embryos are destroyed in the process, and President Bush has severely curtailed federal funding."

    What angers me is that the pro-lifers are pre empting my possibility to choose for myself. The politicians are bowing to the pressure. I realize that embryonic stem cells may not be the answer. I don't want anyone deceiding for me what treatments I have the right to (possibly) utilize.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Max
    she is less certain that she will walk again. "I think of it as a nice dream," she said. "But I'm not sitting around waiting for it to happen."
    Indeed.

    C.

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    Senior Member Max's Avatar
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    Arrow Gel holds promise for spinal cord healing

    Gel holds promise for spinal cord healing

    by Kelly Williams
    Apr 08, 2008




    Related Links

    "Self-Assembling Nanofibers Inhibit Glial Scar Formation and Promote Axon Elongation after Spinal Cord Injury" - The Journal of Neuroscience The Mayo Clinic National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) University of Alabama National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center U.S. Statistics on Spinal Cord Injuries

    • Approximately 11,000 new spinal cord injuries occur each year

    • 52 percent of individuals with spinal cord injuries are considered paraplegic and 47 percent quadriplegic

    • Average lifetime costs for paraplegics (age of injury 25): $428,000

    • Average lifetime costs for quadriplegics (age of injury 25): $1.35 million

    • Highest per capita rate of injury occurs between ages 16-30

    • Average age at injury: 33.4

    Sources: National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, University of Alabama National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center


    After his daughter became paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident, Dr. John Kessler decided to dedicate his life to finding a way for his daughter to walk again.

    One of the main obstacles to recovery and potential prevention of paralysis from spinal cord injuries is scar tissue that forms and impedes the ability of the spine to heal itself.

    http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/....aspx?id=85019

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    Does anyone have up dates on Dr. John Kessler and his research and is he going to to do human trials yet?

  6. #6
    http://www.northwestern.edu/newscent...symposium.html

    June 6, 2011 | Events

    Kirk Roundtable on Stem Cell Research



    Leading Northwestern researchers join discussion, lead Sen. Kirk on lab tour
    By Marla Paul


    Sen. Mark Kirk's (center) symposium included presentations by Jack Kessler, M.D. (left) and Richard Fessler, M.D. (right), leading national stem cell researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Photo by Randy Belice


    CHICAGO --- U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) hosted a Monday symposium on stem cell research at the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center of Northwestern University on the Chicago campus.
    ”The potential of stem cell research to cure Alzheimer’s, cancer or diabetes is limitless if we aggressively support American medical research,” Kirk said. Recalling the death of his father from pulmonary fibrosis, Kirk said many patients with certain diseases still have few treatment options. He wants to “turbocharge” stem cell research in the United States.
    “Stem cell research offers the best promise to cure juvenile diabetes and certain blood cancers,” Kirk said. “That is why I believe Republicans and Democrats should unite behind keeping the United States first in medical research.”
    University President Morton Schapiro opened the symposium, stressing the importance of stem cell research. The symposium also included presentations by Jack Kessler, M.D., and Richard Fessler, M.D., leading national stem cell researchers at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
    Kessler, the Davee Professor of Stem Cell Biology and a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, talked about his lab’s recent breakthrough in transforming human embryonic stem cells into a critical type of neuron that dies early in Alzheimer’s disease and is a major cause of memory loss. He said the research will enable a rapid wave of drug testing for Alzheimer’s disease, allow researchers to study why the neurons die and could potentially lead to transplanting the new neurons into people with Alzheimer’s.
    Fessler, a professor of neurological surgery at Feinberg and surgeon at Northwestern Memorial, spoke about his national clinical research trial of a human embryonic stem cell-based therapy for participants with subacute thoracic spinal cord injuries. He recently performed the procedure on the second participant in the trial.
    The symposium also was attended by Jeffrey Glassroth, M.D., Feinberg interim dean; Dean Harrison, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare president and CEO; and researchers from the University of Chicago and Rush University. Also speaking were Jared Kuper, a 9-year-old with type 1 diabetes, and Jonny Imerman, an adult cancer survivor and founder of Imerman Angels, a non-profit cancer support organization.
    Following the symposium, Kirk toured Kessler’s stem cell lab at the Lurie Medical Research Center.
    Get more information on the symposium, and read more about the research of Kessler and Fessler.

    Marla Paul is the health sciences editor. Contact her at marla-paul@northwestern.edu

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    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by GRAMMY View Post
    http://www.northwestern.edu/newscent...symposium.html

    June 6, 2011 | Events

    Kirk Roundtable on Stem Cell Research



    Leading Northwestern researchers join discussion, lead Sen. Kirk on lab tour
    By Marla Paul


    Sen. Mark Kirk's (center) symposium included presentations by Jack Kessler, M.D. (left) and Richard Fessler, M.D. (right), leading national stem cell researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Photo by Randy Belice


    CHICAGO --- U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) hosted a Monday symposium on stem cell research at the Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center of Northwestern University on the Chicago campus.
    ”The potential of stem cell research to cure Alzheimer’s, cancer or diabetes is limitless if we aggressively support American medical research,” Kirk said. Recalling the death of his father from pulmonary fibrosis, Kirk said many patients with certain diseases still have few treatment options. He wants to “turbocharge” stem cell research in the United States.
    “Stem cell research offers the best promise to cure juvenile diabetes and certain blood cancers,” Kirk said. “That is why I believe Republicans and Democrats should unite behind keeping the United States first in medical research.”
    University President Morton Schapiro opened the symposium, stressing the importance of stem cell research. The symposium also included presentations by Jack Kessler, M.D., and Richard Fessler, M.D., leading national stem cell researchers at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
    Kessler, the Davee Professor of Stem Cell Biology and a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, talked about his lab’s recent breakthrough in transforming human embryonic stem cells into a critical type of neuron that dies early in Alzheimer’s disease and is a major cause of memory loss. He said the research will enable a rapid wave of drug testing for Alzheimer’s disease, allow researchers to study why the neurons die and could potentially lead to transplanting the new neurons into people with Alzheimer’s.
    Fessler, a professor of neurological surgery at Feinberg and surgeon at Northwestern Memorial, spoke about his national clinical research trial of a human embryonic stem cell-based therapy for participants with subacute thoracic spinal cord injuries. He recently performed the procedure on the second participant in the trial.
    The symposium also was attended by Jeffrey Glassroth, M.D., Feinberg interim dean; Dean Harrison, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare president and CEO; and researchers from the University of Chicago and Rush University. Also speaking were Jared Kuper, a 9-year-old with type 1 diabetes, and Jonny Imerman, an adult cancer survivor and founder of Imerman Angels, a non-profit cancer support organization.
    Following the symposium, Kirk toured Kessler’s stem cell lab at the Lurie Medical Research Center.
    Get more information on the symposium, and read more about the research of Kessler and Fessler.

    Marla Paul is the health sciences editor. Contact her at marla-paul@northwestern.edu

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