Published reports this week revealed two significant developments, one with stem cell implications, that may have a positive impact on MSA sufferers. In the first, published in the July 29 edition of Circulation Research (American Heart Association), researchers at the University of Miami reported injecting stem cells directly into the hearts of pigs damaged by heart attacks. Within two months, researchers said, the stem cells made the pigs’ hearts, “good as new.” One researcher said within a decade similar therapy might be available for other organs, including the brain. In the second study, published in the latest edition of Nature (thanks, Vic), researchers have found a molecule that causes nerve cell death in the brain that sparks Parkinson’s – and hope they can soon stop it in its tracks. Since Parkinson’s and MSA may share underlying causes, it is hoped advances found in this research can be used to combat the nerve malfunction associated with MSA.
I am particularly heartened by the stem cell research from the first study and the dramatic results it had on diseased pig hearts. As mentioned in this blog several times before – I firmly believe stem cell research is on the verge of remarkable regenerative breakthroughs which will eventually conquer the devastation caused by MSA. Let’s hope meaningful research like the two studies noted here continue to make headlines until that cure is developed.
On another matter, I had a tough decision to make this week. I was asked whether I wanted to teach my American Presidents/First Ladies program again this fall and winter. Because my overall condition continues to deteriorate – in particular my mobility and my vocal dexterity – I felt it wouldn’t be fair to commit now and then need to cancel when classes begin. So I declined. I really hate this disease and how it continues to steal away so many of life’s little pleasures.
Added 9/1/2010 - Another promising development - Today’s newspaper carried the following article: “Author J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series) has given 10 million pounds ($15.4 million US) to set up a center to research multiple sclerosis, the disease that killed her mother. The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, based at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, will also study other degenerative neurological conditions. Rowling said she hopes the clinic will become a world center for excellence in the field of regenerative neurology.”
Kudos to Ms Rowling for this remarkable act of philanthropy. In my humble opinion, regenerative medicine holds the key to unlock the mystery of MSA.