Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stem Cell Gamble

Damn, I've only just read this. I didn't realize this stuff was so advanced. But then I should have guessed we'd be seeing treatments like this off the radar in countries where medical advances aren't burdened by leaden bureaucracy and HSE minded jobsworths. This is fucking brilliant!

A year on, he has regained strength in his legs, back and stomach, can control his upper body movements and walk with parallel bars.

His circulation has improved, hairs have started growing on his legs for the first time in 20 years and his hope now is that soon he will be able to walk unaided.

I did a short piece once for Nature Magazine, in which I had a character walking into a museum to gaze at a wheelchair in a glass case with a plaque detailing when such archaic devices were last used. Seems this has every chance of being a reality within my lifetime. Excellent!


Paul said...

There is a lot of quackery going on too.

The UK is far more open to this research than the US for example, though that may well change soon.

There are a lot of significant risks and significant unknowns with this sort of treatment. Another recent story had a young boy treated with stem cells go on to develop tumours at the implantation sites.

If you're terminal and you offer your living body for research I think that taking a chance is ok. A 0.01% chance of a cure is still far better than a 100% chance of death. But if you are not terminal I think you have to be more careful that

A)What you are being treated with is a proper treatment with a genuine chance of success (however small)
B)Not just a fraudulent way of getting your money (as a lot of the Chinese stem cell and viral RNA treatments seem to be)
C)That there isn't a significant risk that the treatment will kill you.

I think you're right that research is constricted in this country but I think that is due to underfunding rather than 'elf and safety. Beurocracy is a problem in that this gov (and the gov before to be fair) has forced research towards commercial applications and away from 'blue skies' research. It's the science for science sake research that will often produce the most profound results but those findings may not form part of a marketable product for decades. To research aiming for a product can lead to a narrow focus and ultimately a lot of wasted money and effort if you are beaten to the goal.

Science is a dirty word in this country. You can earn more working on the tills in Tesco than you can in a research lab. But at least in Tesco you'll get a permanent contract and the chance of a mortgage.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

the future for those who can afford it.

Chris said...

... with the mention of Christopher Reeve in that story, it puts into perspective the current sickening media-circus that that trumped harridan is currently riding, where dignity has been left hanging in the wind all in the name of a big-fat cheque (via Max Clifford).

Fingers crossed for Mr Flounders. :)

Paul said...

"bureaucracy" I meant to write :(

berenike said...

I think the young boy Paul mentions was treated with embryonic stem cells, if this is the same story -

- it seems that they are unpredictable, and much less stable, than adult stem cells. But they are trendier: