My husband injured an eye during a tennis game, and over the years, the sight in the eye has deteriorated.
I'm don't like to write about what's wrong, I like to discuss what's right! Stem cells are right -- wonderful, amazing!
After many years of research, Dr. Steven Schwartz, an eye doctor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has finally been able to help a patient with stem cell therapy. The patient had been losing her sight since age 12, and at age 26, was almost blind from macular degeneration
JC's injured eye, no matter what he did and how many doctors he saw, could not be "fixed."
(Hey, don't feel sorry for him -- many of us have accidents and sustain injuries that last a lifetime. JC drives a car, works as an actor and, with glasses and magnifiers, can fix the spring on the inside of a wristwatch. He does all the things one needs to do with one's eyes. But, if that eye could have been fixed, his career as a leading man would have been in movies as well as on stage. The subtle changes in one's eyes is a major tool for a movie actor.)
So, what about what's being done right now, with stem cells? Could it have helped John Cullum?
The 26-year-old patient is a pioneer, one of the first to receive first retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells generated from embryonic stem cells. If the cells that are being injected into her eyes work, she will join a handful of other patients with similar problems who are getting stem cells. Also in the pioneer group are two patients with spinal-cord injuries who've been receiving injections in another embryonic-stem-cell-based treatment.
These pioneers are helping scientists decide if therapies with stem cells are safe and ultimately effective.
"We are finally ready to break ground on this field with the first trials," says Dr. Robert Lanza, Chief Scientific Officer at ACT (Advanced Cell Technology), a company that makes the RPE cells. "It's taken a decade of extensive research to get to this point."
Disabled guys -- Michael J. Fox, Steven Hawking, Stevie Wonder, and the late Richard Pryor and Christopher Reeve -- think of them and stem cells therapies -- think about what stem cells could have done for Roosevelt, Helen Keller, and Beethoven.
My favorite Emily, Emily Dickinson said,
"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all."
Scientists are hoping that embryonic stem cells have already begun the new era in medicine, and there will be help for Diabetes, Alzheimer's, and countless of other chronic diseases, including heart disease.
I've got big hopes.