Headline Feb 10, 2016/ ''' THE BODY'S -*TECHNOLOGY*- TO CREATE '''



BUT STEM CELLS  -the potential to make broken men walk again and take half a million Americans  -and millions by millions worldwide-  off dialysis and revolutionize our treatments for cancer?

To potentially unlock the secrets of all diseases? To unleash a wholly new medical field and economic engine? That was put on ice for a decade because the politics were too hard.

''It's almost impossible to do stem cells in the United States,'' says Dr. Richard Fessler, who led what was supposed to be the first-ever human trial using embryonic stem cells for Geron before it was abruptly canceled in late 2011.

''The paperwork you have to go through, the years of preparation, the politics that go on with it...........So that the scientists who are interested in doing this and who have their careers staked on stem-cells research are leaving the United States.''

Dr. Ed Wirth, former medical director at Geron, recently told a conference of stem cell doctors that what doomed the $145 million study was the burden of paying for basic research. 

It was equivalent of asking a private space company to build a new rocket without any of the institutional know-how developed over decades by NASA.

Some years ago, Advanced Cell Technology announced that it had completed the first clinical trial using highly purified embryonic stem cells to treat two women with advanced macular degeneration, both of whom achieved some improvements in vision. 

And, perhaps more important, no signs of tumor growth. [The eye was an ideal first indication, because only a limited number of cells were needed]. But this advance, too, is colored with a sense of what could have been.

''I had those stem cells a decade ago.'' says Dr. Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer for ACT, and an early stem-cell pioneer. Years ago, a policeman confronted Lanza at his Worcester, Massachusetts, office. The policeman's son could barely see. He asked if Lanza could help.

''And it's just heart wrenching.'' Lanza says. ''We've had those cells in the freezer and I couldn't do anything, there was no money. And I'm just thinking every year that went by how many thousands of people were going blind. It wasn't until very recently that we were able to get them into the clinic, because of all the politics.''
And Dr. Anrhony Atala, what does he say?

Nothing. Over the years, his work has been buffeted mercilessly by the politics surrounding embryonic stem cells, and though he is naturally a man of soft voice and few words, he has learned to say nothing at all.
The irony is that he doesn't even use embryonic stem cells.

THE ROCK IS SMOOTH AND OVAL, EXCEPT FOR ONE SIDE that has been sanded down with time, so that when you pick it up, as Atala did fourteen years ago on a beach near Boston, it looks like as if you're holding a tiny stone kidney in your hand.

At the time, Atala had already had success building the earliest versions of his artificial bladder and was focusing on other organs. He wanted to build a kidney that would instantly pull half a million Americans off dialysis, but it was far more complicated than constructing a thin, hollow bladder.

A kidney would have to be hooked up to the ureter. It's solid, so it would need a complicated circulatory system. And it would need a fabulously complex internal scaffold to keep all the twenty-two cell types in the right place so that the kidney would function.

Building an organ is a lot like building a house. Even if you get all the materials, you have to put them together in a very specific order or the lights won't turn on, the boiler won't work, the toilets won't flush. 

All the parts need to communicate with one another and work together, or you'll end up with just a clump of mismatched cells rather than a functioning organ.  

Atala turned the stone kidney around in his hand and rubbed his thumb over the outer edge. What he saw was uncanny. Not only did this rock look like a replica of a kidney, it had a slightly upraised seam that bisected the rock into two mirrored halves. The human kidney has the same bisection, called the Brodel's line. It's the place with least circulation and functionality.

In moments, the rock triggered a cascade of thoughts, solutions slamming together with the speed and intensity of a twenty-car pile up.
Atala, didn't have to actually build a whole new kidney and circulatory system from scratch. 

If he were to cut a diseased kidney open at the Brodel's line, then he could simply insert a silver-dollar-sized sliver of a new, healthy kidney tissue. Just a simple addition of 10% of functioning tissue would be enough to get most patients off donor lists and dialysis. Rather than building an entire new house from scratch. Atala could just add a new boiler.

''It's at the craziest times! These things really come up at the craziest times,'' he says. ''I looked at the rock. I picked it up. It had a seam on it.''     
He believes in serendipity. It's what he named his small boat, which is docked on a North Carolina lake. he believes that if he struggles with problems long enough, lets them simmer at low heat in the back of his mind, and leaves his thoughts open to ideas or perspectives he might never have considered, then the solution will eventually reveal itself through chance.

It's why when he was training he spent so many hours at the library flipping through academic journals from every realm late into the night. 

Engineering, Art, Dentistry. Many of the solutions to his challenges were out there, discovered by other people in the other fields for other purposes; he just had to find them. 

The Honour and Serving of the  ''Medical Operational History'' continues. Thank you for reading and sharing.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and the Ecosystem 2011:

''' The Challenges '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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