Thursday, April 19, 2012

Think Big (RATS)! Think Cure (WALK)! Repeat (AGAIN)!

One might say you have to be a little crazy to be able to think BIG! Then, call me crazy! Many of you may know that I was lucky enough to help organize TEDxBigApple early this year. I must have been insane because it's not as if I didn't have enough things to do (in fact, we the Ahn-tourage were also homeless during this time because of home modifications/renovations)! However, being a part of these organizational efforts re-introduced hope in my life. So, I almost think it's the crazy that leads you to where you need to be. Allow me explain...........................once upon a time...........

December 2001: An article is published in PNAS "Functional recovery following traumatic spinal cord injury mediated by a unique polymer scaffold seeded with neural stem cells". This article is contributed by an MIT professor named Robert Langer.

....................many many happy years pass......................

April 2011: I join a wonderful group of individuals who are madly passionate about sharing and spreading ideas. The brainstorming creates TEDxBigApple.

August 2011: The day everything changed. (On a side note: This is also the day Dale is eligible to get a monkey)

November-December 2011: Dale is working hard in acute rehab at Mt. Sinai and subacute at Franklin Center. Also, the TEDxBigApple final speaker list is confirmed; a Robert Langer is on the List.

January 2012: I now know all there is to know about Robert Langer. His materials science lab at MIT works mainly with polymer scaffolds and drug delivery. His company InVivo Therapeutics takes the same polymer scaffolds and applies them to developing technologies for treatment of Spinal Cord Injury. What?? The results? A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Happen chance meeting a coincidence? I think not.

February 4, 2012: TEDxBigApple starts. Robert Langer closes the talks and he doesn't disappoint. HE MAKES PARALYZED RATS WALK AGAIN!! See his talk here (for SCI related skip to 15:10)

April 13, 2012: InVivo Therapeutics announces pending approval from the FDA for their polymer scaffolds for treatment of Spinal Cord Injury. Now, to be fair it is not the same scaffold impregnated with neuronal stem cells that was implanted in the rats. However, if this polymer scaffold device is approved in safety and efficacy by the FDA, then the applications are huge! The device can be used in conjuction with neuronal stems cells and other drugs to provide a.) decrease in secondary injury, cell death, and scar formation in the acute stage of injury b.) provide a scaffold from which surviving neural cells can cross the lesion/gap c.) provide a local site for drug delivery (stem cells, anti-inflammatory drugs).

In all, there are a million and once different therapies that can improve functional outcome after spinal cord injury. However, the "cure" is not going to be one size fits all solution. Many different variables will need to be addressed simultaneous. That being said, we are getting closer to the answers, and don't it feel good.

So, I've noticed that it's 2:30am so I'll close off by saying, "be crazy, think BIG, think CURE, repeat!"

Snugs & hugs,

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