Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Breakthrough in AIDS as virus's hiding places found (Indo Asian News Service)

In a major breakthrough for AIDS cure, Canadian scientists have finally found where the HIV virus hides in the human body to become impervious to medical treatment.
Led by Professor Rafick-Pierre Sekaly, researchers said they have found that the virus hides in "long-lived" memory cells in the human body. These memory cells, which have a long life just like the stem cells, lie sleepy in the body most of the time until they encounter a new virus or disease-causing agents. Like stem cells, these memory cells are also capable of replicating themselves. So when the AIDS enters them or attacks them, these memory cells multiply to defend the body. But the problem is that the once AIDS virus enters these memory cells, it also multiplies with them. Thus, during the current intense medication - which involves five to six drugs that can prolong life up to 13 years - for a patient, the AIDS virus retreats into these safe havens to stage an attack later. The researchers said they are finding ways to destroy the virus in its safe havens in the memory cells without harming the immune system. Their research is the "first clue" to eliminating the AIDS virus, said research leader Sekaly Sunday.There are over 33 million HIV patients worldwide, with 2.7 million more getting infected each year.

The research study has been published in the journal Nature Medicine.
posted by http://newshopper.sulekha.com/news/breakthrough-in-aids-as-virus-s-hiding-places-found.htm

Monday, June 15, 2009

Risks in Embryonic Stem Cell Clincial Trials: Spinal Injury Patients Use Caution

(caption: picture of a teratoma, a type of cancer associated with human embryonic stem cells)

I would highly advise those families who have a loved one facing the difficult and tragic situation of incurring a spinal chord injury, to use caution if asked to enter Geron’s human embryonic stem cell clinical trial. Families and patients should seek both objective and independent scientific and legal counsel before giving signed consent to participate.

Clinical trials are dangerous, especially clinical trials involving new technologies such as human embryonic stem cells. Patients may be taking on more than they bargained for since research institutions often hide the dangers associated with human embryonic stem cell research, leaving the public ignorant of the real risks.

Make sure that the independent experts you choose to counsel with have no conflicts of interest with Geron, which unfortunately is sometimes hard to determine. Ask them if they, their colleagues or institution are obtaining any monetary incentives regarding promoting the Geron trial. If they are, seek other advice.

Although it may seem difficult under your dire circumstances, do not allow the physicians involved to alarm you into making a decision too quickly. Read the informed consent document thoroughly. Let your attorney read it. Make sure you understand every sentence in the informed consent contract.

Do not underestimate the risks noted in the consent form…even if they are written in small print or appear innocuous. You should have a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts and risks involved. You should know that cancer and autoimmune disorders are real risks implicated with this trial.

Keep in mind that this is a SAFETY trial for the use of human embryonic stem cells and not an efficacy trial. It is being performed to determine if this embryonic stem cell treatment will harm humans. The trial has not been designed to cure you.

Geron’s human embryonic stem cell is a dangerous trial, the safety outcome of which is not only measured within the initial months, but also, decades later.

Contact me if you have any further questions at Watchdogonscience@comcast.net

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Wooooooooe Horsey! Not so FAST! Patients use caution.

I am apprehensive about Geron’s upcoming embryonic stem cell clinical trial, the first human clinical trial for their experimental drug targeting spinal chord repair. I am especially concerned for the protection of the patients who enroll in this trial

Geron has designed their initial safety trial to only enroll patients with non-severed spinal chord injuries. These injuries are designated as crushing or contusion spinal chord injuries. Geron will be monitoring the outcome of the trial by if a patient can wiggle their toes days or months subsequent to the treatment.

Geron didn’t pick this group of patients without considerable thought to promote their product. In fact, this population of patients is the most likely spinal chord injury population that will make Geron’s drug look good, when indeed it may not be good at all. The reason being is that since their spinal chords have not been severed, these patients have a marked probability of recovering from these injuries to various degrees with or without embryonic stem cell treatment.

Consequently, a “wiggle toe” outcome in Geron’s trial will not project any conclusive data toward determining the efficacy of Geron’s embryonic stem cell drug, but will only provide initial safety information. (Although I can reasonably predict and would actually gamble on the fact that when the first treated patient wiggles his toes, the scientific propaganda machine will undoubtedly tout it as an embryonic stem cell miracle cure to the unsuspecting population. I can see a picture of the toes wiggling already.)
And although the sight of someone wiggling their toes after incurring such a horrific injury to their spinal chord brings joyous emotions to anyone with an ounce of empathy for their suffering, the patient receiving the embryonic stem cell treatment is not home free. They took a risk when entering this trial. A big risk.

The RISK to the patient (who one can imagine is DESPERATE at the time of injury since he is paralyzed, albeit perhaps only temporarily) is incredibly high in undergoing this embryonic stem cell treatment. Even if that said treated patient “wiggles his toes” which he most likely would have done even without the embryonic stem cell treatment, he may very well succumb to a teratoma or auto immune disorder within a ten year period. These risks are well documented in animal studies in the scientific literature regarding embryonic stem cell therapies.

I do hope that these spinal chord injury patients who will be in the unfortunate position to consider entering into Geron’s human embryonic stem cell clinical trial will receive thorough counseling prior to giving consent. I would highly advice those families who have a loved one who will consider entering this trial to seek both objective and independent scientific and legal counsel before signing any consent form. Make sure you understand every sentence in the consent contract…even the small print. Make sure that the experts you choose to counsel with have no conflicts of interest with the Geron trial, which unfortunately is sometimes hard to determine.

Keep in mind that this is a SAFETY trial and not an efficacy trial. Geron’s human embryonic stem cell is a dangerous trial, the safety outcome of which is not only measured within the initial months but decades later.

If you have any questions, contact me at watchdogonscience@comcast.net.