Dear Friend of Stem Cell Research:
For one month, I will make available a short (2–3 paragraphs) daily piece summarizing one aspect of the stem cell research — my layman’s understanding of it — done by scientists connected to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
The material is drawn from the California Institution for Regenerative Medicine (cirm.ca.gov). For more info, look up your disease of interest there. Kevin McCormack deserves credit for most of the science writing. A cheerful editing was provided by Melissa King. Any mistakes are my own. In most cases I have left out the scientists’ names. A few I have written about in my books, and those I felt free to credit directly.
There are no politics involved, other than my sincere wish for your participation.
Remember in November!
#4: TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY: Total Grants (2): Total value ($5.1 million)
“Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the single largest cause of death and disability among the young” (1) — as well as a major problem in the elderly — more common than diagnoses of brain, breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers combined.
What is TBI? Basically a blow on the head — which sounds so simple! But like a bullet fired into a super-computer, the damage can be devastating.
The financial costs alone are staggering. 1.7 million new cases of TBI occur each year, at an economic cost of $60 billion. (As a reference, the cost of renewing California’s stem cell program was $5.5 billion, meaning one year ofTraumatic Brain Injury costs ten times as much as renewing our entire stem cell program!)
“TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain, resulting in emotional, mental, movement, and memory problems.” (2) This can include Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and other conditions.
One approach(at UC Irvine) will be to turn Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) into Neurological Stem Cells (NSCs) and (blend) them with the patient’s injured tissue. This may allow patients to improve “memory (and) movement…increasing independence and lessening patient care needs.”(3) It may also reduce seizures.
Progress with “nude rats” (having no immune system) has been encouraging. “Even a small reduction in the size of the injury…could have significant implications for a patient’s quality of life… Two cell lines have already been manufactured to (excellent) standards, which should speed up the translation of this work from laboratory to clinic.”