Thread: Stephen Davies Update

  1. #1221
    Amen, bro.
    "It's not the despair, I can handle the despair! It's the hope!" - John Cleese

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  2. #1222
    researchers are politicians. Create hype, make promises but really just vying for a job and a paycheck.
    Han: "We are all ready to win, just as we are born knowing only life. It is defeat that you must learn to prepare for"

  3. #1223
    Quote Originally Posted by jhope View Post
    researchers are politicians. Create hype, make promises but really just vying for a job and a paycheck.
    Sad, but unfortunately true.

    The best researchers are brilliant researchers making amazing discoveries, but they need to raise funds for their labs to keep running. So they also need to be part-time politicians.

    Another unfortunate fact is that the people doing the best research are typically not the best politicians. (They are two completely different skill sets.) The result is often the people doing less-than-the-best research receive most of the money and publicity, while the top-tier researchers are left with less funding and less visibility.

  4. #1224
    Charlie, There's lots of good solid sci researchers in the field that get grant funding from the National Institute of Health under a peer review process. You can check on the research work of any scientist in the field at http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm to see if their work warranted funding.
    Not all good sci research applications get funded, but I think the majority that is funded through a solid peer review process works well. Sorting through political sci solicitors that don't make it through a grant and peer review process could more than likely be a huge waste of money and time because the good solid science really isn't there when you dig deep enough. That's also why the NIH contracts a sci replication lab also. They take extraordinary or dubious claims and run studies on them to see if anyone can replicate the work. Many times, the orginal work cannot be replicated in any other lab. The research work is worthless if other scientists cannot make it work and it's only good in the hands of one lone scientist. Always check for the completed replication studies to avoid the smoke and mirrors. JMHO...
    Last edited by GRAMMY; 07-13-2012 at 02:41 AM.

  5. #1225
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
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    I still believe in Dr Davies. He's just flying under the radar for now I think.
    Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

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  6. #1226
    Quote Originally Posted by GRAMMY View Post
    Charlie, There's lots of good solid sci researchers in the field that get grant funding from the National Institute of Health under a peer review process.
    Hi Grammy,

    Great to hear from you again. Most of what you say is true. The problem is that the NIH funding process is not free from politics either.

    The problem is that for nearly 100 years, nobody believed that nerve regeneration was even possible. It is only since stem cells were discovered in the last decade or two that anyone began to even think about choosing this as a research profession. The result is that there are still less than around 20 top-tier researchers in the field world-wide.

    In the US, there are probably less than ten top-tier researchers working on SCI. Since they are the only ones qualified to say if a certain proposal is worth funding, almost all of them are on the NIH peer-review panel.

    Now we have a new problem. It can take up to a year for an NIH grant to be funded. For whatever reasons, whether it be losing funds to another researcher, or simply an ego issue, none of the researchers really wants to submit a grant application to the NIH:

    a) It takes many months simply to prepare the proposal.

    b) Once the proposal is submitted, then all of the other researchers on the panel will know exactly what the other researcher is up to. The other researchers may "steal" some of the ideas, for whatever reasons.

    c) It normally takes another six months to actually get the money, and that is if everything goes smoothly. If there is a backlog, or someone on the review panel asks for additional information or documentation, it can take a year (or even more) to receive the funds.

    d) Even if everything goes well, it is quite likely that the grant will not be approved. With the cuts that Bush made to the NIH early in his first term (not to mention the restriction on stem-cell research), the approval rate has dropped down to something in the neighborhood of 10%. So it is still a big gamble. Dr. Davies is proud of the fact that every NIH grant he has applied for has been approved (at least this was true as of a couple of years ago), but much of this is due to the amount of work he has to do (three to six months) in preparing a detailed proposal that has a good chance of being approved.

    So that is why most researchers prefer to find an "angel investor" that has money and will provide research funding without all of the red tape and hoops and risks that go hand-in-hand with applying for an NIH grant.

    There are plenty of rich people in this country that could easily give $1 million or even $10 million to Dr. Davies with no strings attached. The problem here is that they need to be motivated to do so. This means that either they or someone personally close to them (eg, a family member) has an SCI.

    About the only person in that situation that I am aware of is Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine. I have no idea how to get in touch with him. Also, that might create some negative publicity for Dr. Davies, as many people disapprove of Mr. Flynt's accomplishments.

    Even then my understanding is that he had such problems with horrible neuropathic pain that he ended up having 6" or 8" of his spinal cord removed. That apparently solves the pain problems, but then no current techniques could bridge such a large gap. So he would be making a donation on behalf of people like us, and not something that he would personally benefit from.

    The key is to find a person with money that cares about SCI's. For example the 1991 ADA bill was pushed through by Senator Tom Harkin (D, Iowa). He had served in the US Navy and this inspired his nephew to also join. The nephew didn't achieve his dream of becoming a pilot (bad eyesight or some-such) so he did the next best thing, which was to serve as an aircraft mechanic on an aircraft carrier.

    Unfortunately some accident sucked him into the intake of one of the jet engines. He was lucky to survive but ended up with a very high SCI that made his life very difficult (as we all unfortunately know all too well). So the only reason that we have the benefits from the 1991 ADA is due to the misfortune of someone close to a powerful politician. If Senator Harkin happened to ever become the US President, he would undoubtedly make enough money to fund Dr. Davies. (US President always seem to end their careers with far more money than they started with...)

    But even rich people with an interest in SCI's get approached by all sorts of researchers. And again, as they don't have the scientific background to sort out the various approaches and claims, they end up funding the ones with the ones with the best political skills rather than the ones with the best research skills.

    Again, sad but true...

    Blessings,
    Charlie Hansen

    PS -- I haven't spoken with Dr. Davies for nearly a year for a variety of reasons. So even though I am still a strong supporter there isn't any point in asking me for any updates. The last time I contacted him, he was in the midst of writing a paper on his latest research (very exciting stuff, but I am not at liberty to reveal anything that was said to me in strict confidence). I would have thought by now that it would have been published, but just as with research grants, there is a lot of red tape in getting a paper published. All I can say is that when it finally is published, I think all of us will be very happy with what he has accomplished. Again, he is not focusing on human trials until he feels that his work with rats has reached the point where he is confident that he can provide significant benefits without introducing new problems (eg, cancer from stem cells or increased neuropathic pain). Also his techniques are new and will require FDA approval before he can even think about starting human trials, and this can take a lot of time also.

  7. #1227
    I'd never heard that top notch sci researchers don't want to submit grant applications to the NIH before since most all of them do anyway in spite of what you've been told. I'm not sure if the paranoia about someone stealing ideas on sci research is accurate or not, but I do know that Stephen has always been fearful. (I don't know of any other top notch researcher working on GRP/Decorin, nor one that wants to since Decorin isn't effective on sci). I've heard for literally 5 years at the beginning of this thread that we'd be seeing publications on chronic sci research but so far nothing as promised long ago. In addition, the replication studies so far having turned out negative...

    He'll need to start serious chronic studies in earnest in order to publish anything, which he really hasn't that I'm aware of. Almost a year ago I think he was reporting on 8 day acutes using tiny nick's in his animal models. Perhaps he has had good luck finding his angel investor in Spain. That would possibly turn out better than soliciting Larry Flynt from Hustler Magazine and he could actually start research work on chronic sci.

    Hopefully someday he will find a cure for SCI. I just sort through the obvious facts differently than you I guess. I expect progressive results along the way with reasonable time allotments. A list of excuses for lack of production could go on forever and wouldn't garner continued financial support from anyone seriously financing spinal cord injury research, nor should it. I think the sci community deserves better results and collaboration but that's just my own personal convictions because I'm a relentless hardass when it comes to chronic spinal cord injury research and don't believe in unproductive silos. Researchers need to get in the batters box and start swinging for the team, if not they sit the bench and become part of the problem instead part of the solution. Resources and funding needs to be focused on promising productive sci research labs.
    Last edited by GRAMMY; 07-13-2012 at 03:35 PM.

  8. #1228
    It's not true that that it was the discovery of stem cells that made scientists think that nerve regeneration is possible. I remember a number of scientist talking about it (28 years ago or so) before the term stem cells became popular with the public and the media.

    And haven't we been told (atleast once in a video by Alistair-Sim) that the transplantation or injection of stem cells is not likely to be a cure for sci atleast not for a very long time?

  9. #1229
    Quote Originally Posted by GRAMMY View Post
    I'd never heard that top notch sci researchers don't want to submit grant applications to the NIH before since most all of them do anyway in spite of what you've been told.
    As we say in the US (I know that there are a lot of international participants on the CareCure forums), there is more than one way to skin a cat. The NIH is still the main source of funds for many researchers while others prefer different funding methods with fewer hoops to jump through and fewer "strings" attached. Some people prefer one approach and others prefer a different approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by GRAMMY View Post
    I'm not sure if the paranoia about someone stealing ideas on sci research is accurate or not, but I do know that Stephen has always been fearful. (I don't know of any other top notch researcher working on GRP/Decorin, nor one that wants to since Decorin isn't effective on sci).
    Decorin is an extremely difficult enzyme to synthesize. In the past Dr. Davies has used a source in the US that provided him with very pure material. I know that one time he mentioned in passing that Chinese experimenters were conducting research with a very low grade of Decorin (less than 40% pure, as I recall although my memory is terrible) but achieved very good results even then.

    This is the first I've heard of Decorin not being being effective with SCI's, but I certainly don't keep up with it the way I used to. Do you have any links?

    Quote Originally Posted by GRAMMY View Post
    I've heard for literally 5 years at the beginning of this thread that we'd be seeing publications on chronic sci research but so far nothing as promised long ago. In addition, the replication studies so far having turned out negative...

    He'll need to start serious chronic studies in earnest in order to publish anything, which he really hasn't that I'm aware of. Almost a year ago I think he was reporting on 8 day acutes using tiny nick's in his animal models. Perhaps he has had good luck finding his angel investor in Spain. That would possibly turn out better than soliciting Larry Flynt from Hustler Magazine and he could actually start research work on chronic sci.
    Dr. Davies certainly isn't the most prolific writer of research papers. However I would say that he is one of the most detail oriented and thorough researchers around (in any field). His big three landmark papers are linked at my company's website:

    www.ayre.com/davies.htm

    The first one showed that naive stem cells had almost no effect and led to increased neuropathic pain. Instead he found that using glial restricted precursors (GRP's), where the naive stem cell has been guided down a pathway to produce the specific precursor to the type of cells found in the CNS led to good results.

    The next paper found that there were two ways to create GRP's. One method produced additional neuropathic pain and virtually no nerve regeneration, while the other type produced excellent nerve regeneration with no additional neuropathic pain. (There may have actually been a pain reduction, I don't really recall.

    The most recent paper found that using GRP's derived from human stem cells worked even better in rats than using GRP's derived from rat stem cells. This was a very surprising result to me, and certainly not what I would have expected. But this turned out to be a very important step forward, as it proved that human-based GRP's could regenerate nerves. (Many people criticized Dr. Davies prior to this, saying that fixing paralyzed rats was one thing but that it was an entirely different matter to fix a paralyzed person.) Clearly he has not yet shown that he can fix a paralyzed person yet, but he has made a strong case for using this technique on humans.

    As far as chronic research is concerned, I know that is a major focus of his plans. We will all have to wait for his next paper to be published to know if that is what he has been working on recently.

    Quote Originally Posted by GRAMMY View Post
    Hopefully someday he will find a cure for SCI.
    He has already done so for rats. It's all detailed in the papers linked on the webpage linked above.

    Quote Originally Posted by GRAMMY View Post
    I just sort through the obvious facts differently than you I guess. I expect progressive results along the way with reasonable time allotments. A list of excuses for lack of production could go on forever and wouldn't garner continued financial support from anyone seriously financing spinal cord injury research, nor should it. I think the sci community deserves better results and collaboration but that's just my own personal convictions because I'm a relentless hardass when it comes to chronic spinal cord injury research and don't believe in unproductive silos. Researchers need to get in the batters box and start swinging for the team, if not they sit the bench and become part of the problem instead part of the solution. Resources and funding needs to be focused on promising productive sci research labs.
    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. My opinion is that Dr. Davies is doing more advanced work than any other researcher that I am aware of. I know that many people get very excited when human trials are announced and tend to send their money in that direction. To date I am unaware of any human trials that show much promise. This also explains why I continue to support Dr. Davies financially. Everyone has to make their own decisions regarding who to support, and obviously there are at least as many opinions as there are researchers.

    What started this portion of the thread was the proclamation that researchers must also be politicians. I agree and believe that Dr. Davies is a better researcher than he is a politician. My opinion on this is unchanged.

    Just yesterday I received a notice of a posting by Dr. Young concerning the SCINetUSA trials. The line that caught my attention was, "Recently, we have preliminary evidence from CN102B indicating that UCBMC±lithium is safe and may be effective." [emphasis added]

    To my way of thinking, this is putting the cart before the horse. I would prefer to develop a methodology that has been proven to be effective before beginning human trials. I believe that this is also Dr. Davies philosophy (although obviously I cannot speak for him and may be wrong about this). This would explain why Dr. Davies has not actively started human trials and instead has been focusing on his research with rats.

  10. #1230
    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Paddon View Post
    It's not true that that it was the discovery of stem cells that made scientists think that nerve regeneration is possible. I remember a number of scientist talking about it (28 years ago or so) before the term stem cells became popular with the public and the media.
    Thank you for the correction. I am far from an expert on the recent history of recent progress in the area of regeneration of the CNS. At the same time, I don't think that there were many people that were devoting their careers to this field of study. In fact there still aren't. There are probably 1000x more people researching cancer than CNS regeneration. (Again just a wild guess on my part, with no evidence to back it up.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Paddon View Post
    And haven't we been told (at least once in a video by Alistair-Sim) that the transplantation or injection of stem cells is not likely to be a cure for sci atleast not for a very long time?
    Yes, this is quite consistent with everything I have ever read from any legitimate researcher. One can go to Mexico or India and have naive stem cells injected into the area of injury. Typically there is essentially zero benefit, and the negative effects can range from increased neuropathic pain up to and including cancer.

    That was one of the breakthroughs that Dr. Davies made. He has shown that when the naive stem cells are guided down a specific pathway using specific techniques that the results can be spectacular. Rats with acute injuries show ~60% regeneration of the spinal card tissue across the site of the injury (the previous record was ~5%) and virtually 100% functional rehabilitation within two weeks or so.

    It is my personal belief that using Decorin will produce even more favorable results, but that is not based on anything that Dr. Davies has said to me, merely my own "gut feeling". At the same time it will be much easier to receive FDA approval for an enzyme naturally found in the body than to receive approval for modified stem cells. Also it should be much easier to introduce the Decorin than it would be to introduce the GRP's (modified stem cells) to the site of the injury.

    Unfortunately I am not in a position to do much except attempt to raise funds. We will have to wait for Dr. Davies' next paper to be published to find out what he has achieved recently. He certainly has an excellent track record. I have seen his presentation (as have many at Work2Walk and other conferences). I studied enough biochemistry and molecular biology at university to be impressed by his accomplishments and found no "holes" in his claims whatsoever. Again, while I consider myself more knowledgeable in this field than many, I am certainly no expert. I try to make the most informed decisions that I can, and that is all I can do.

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