Tuesday, May 23, 2017

9 Months in, Stem Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injury Continues to Improve Paralyzed Patient's Life

Asterias Biotherapeutics is a biotechnology company, which is dedicated to regenerative medicine. Recently they have launched a new medicine AST-OPC1 that offers embryonic stem cell based treatment for patients with spinal cord injuries. The medicine was under trail for a while and now it has been declared completely safe and highly effective for patients with spinal cord diseases.

The trial involved injecting the medicine into the affected area and patients showed improvement in their upper body function within 3 to 6 months after the therapy. Asterias Biotherapeutics conducted a press release in June, 2017, in which they have clearly stated the effectiveness of the medicine. It also recorded the detailed results after 9 months of the trial.

It was conducted on 6 patients. Each one of them received an injection of 10 million AST-OPC1 cells after 2 to 4 weeks of their injury. After 9 months, it had been noticed that all the patients showed improvements in their finger, arm, and hand movements.

Spinal cord injuries affect more than 17,000 people around the world every year. With the announcement of AST-OPC1, certainly they now have hope to restore their upper body movements. Dr. Edward Wirth, Chief Medical Officer of the trial said, "The new efficacy results show that previously reported meaningful improvements in arm, hand and finger function in the 10 million cell cohort treated with AST-OPC1 cells have been maintained and in some patients have been further enhanced even 9 months following dosing."

Coming back to the trial, it involved patients who were suffering from severe spinal cord injuries in the neck that resulted into lack of feeling and loss of neck down upper body movement. The team at the Asterias Biotherapeutics quantified the results of the therapy by referring them as "motor levels" of improvements. These motor levels were associated with different levels of movement abilities. In the press release, the team confirmed that restoring the movement abilities, "can result in lower healthcare costs, significant improvements in quality of life, increased ability to engage in activities of daily living, and increased independence."

After 9 months of clinical trial, the researchers at the Asterias confirmed that 50% of the patients (3 out of 10 patients) showed two motor levels of improvement. And all the 6 patients involved in the trail, showed at least one motor level of improvement. However, some of the experts might say that recovery from spinal cord injuries is possible without stem cell therapy. This is true. But no other study or therapy showed patients regaining their two motor levels of improvement within 9 months of the treatment.

Earlier data from 62 untreated patients showed that 29% patients got back two motor levels of improvement with 1 year whereas AST-OPC1 promises massive improvements within 9 months. Dr. Edward Wirth also confirmed it when he said, "We are increasingly encouraged by these continued positive results, which are remarkable compared with spontaneous recovery rates observed in a closely matched untreated patient population."

Two motor levels is equivalent to higher quality life. For any person suffering from spinal cord injuries or upper body paralysis, achieving two motor levels is a dream and with AST-OPC1 it does not seem a distant dream at all.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What Americans Should Know About the Canadian Medical System

I'm not sure if the Canadian medical system is as perfect as some Americans might believe. As an example, we have one hospital in our city with 36,000 people. This facility services surrounding areas with a total of approximately 100,000 people. The federal and provincial governments have drastically reduced funding for hospitals. Here is what happens when you go to the emergency here...

One enters the building and takes a ticket waiting for triage nurse to assess, then your sent to a registration area to check in. If you're sick or wounded but not life threatening a 4-10-hour wait is normal. Once ten or eleven P.M. comes around there is one doctor to take care of everyone. If an ambulance comes in then you just wait longer. If there is a serious injury our hospital is not equipped to handle the emergency, a helicopter comes to air lift people to anther facility. This is unfortunate because they are not saving lives, but stabilizing while waiting to air lift them. If it is a car accident or serious injury the police are involved, ambulance drivers, maybe even child protective services. The problem is this one Doctor is stuck doing paperwork while so many other people need attention. The question is what happens when there are multiple people in an accident with life threatening situations? There is only one physician there, and now according to what I hear they are making them do 16 hour shifts. This hospital invested millions of dollars in updating the building to look modern, but cutting back on doctors.

Anyways, once you are called in your put in a room where the wait can be hours before the doctor actual comes in to see you. Again, if an ambulance happens to arrive at that moment understandably you are there in the room for a very long time. Nobody goes to the hospital as an outing, they are there for medical attention, and if you're sick or wounded it is grueling. This is indirectly mental torture, and there are signs if you become aggressive or rude they can refuse service. Wait your ten hours suck it up butter cup. When the doctor finally arrives if you need x-rays or blood work that takes time, and many instances even longer to get results.

The advantage of our medical system is you don't pay for the service, each citizen has a medical card that covers all this care through our outrageous taxation? To add insult to injury many communities must raise money to get the proper medical equipment for their hospitals. I don't blame the doctors or nurses but our governments not funding hospitals properly. Maybe it's me, but we keep bringing in people from other countries, supporting them when we can't even provide swift or at times proper medical service to our own citizens.

I understand that so many people are complaining in the states about the costs of medical insurance. The Canadian system has many flaws as well, where people have died in the emergency rooms waiting for help. I believe if you're Canadian or American there needs to be a solution were every citizen receives the care needed.