KRAUSE’S GROVE, 2 Beach Road, Halfmoon, NY


1:00 PM TO 6:00 PM ~ RAIN OR SHINE

$30.00 per adult ticket at gate - $20.00 for children under 12

includes donation to Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

5 hour picnic with soda, beer, games, raffles, 50/50, live music




Abundant food and dessert being served 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Those who wish to join a pre-picnic motorcycle cavalcade around the beautiful Tomhannock Reservoir in Ali’s honor will meet at the Troy Plaza on Hoosick Street at 10:00 A.M. for sign up and the cavalcade will kick off at 11:00 A.M. sharp.

For more info: https://www.facebook.com/Rally4Ali

For Further Information


For the Run, Wally Urzan


For the Picnic & Cause

Alison Fisk


Saturday, August 27, 2011


Parents in India bank on stem-cells, not the ‘tooth fairy’

NEW DELHI— From Saturday's Globe and Mail

For the past seven years, the Sethys had a faint but haunting feeling that they had let their daughter down. Danya, 10, is their only child and the Sethys strive for the best for her: She takes Japanese language, traditional Indian dance and keyboard lessons. They take her for checkups with Delhi’s best doctors; they have all kinds of insurance policies.
But they missed one: when Danya was born, the Sethys had never heard of the practice of banking stem cells that could be used to treat their daughter for future serious illnesses.
“In 2004 it came in India, this umbilical cord-blood banking, and then it was always in our mind we have missed on something for our child,” said Kanwal Sethy, an artist whose husband Capt. A. S. Sethy is an officer in India’s merchant navy.
But earlier this year, Ms. Sethy took her daughter for a checkup and crossed paths with an efficient young representative from a company called Stemade Biotech Ltd. He had some good news for her: It wasn’t too late after all. Danya still had some of her baby teeth, and Stemade could extract stem cells from the dental pulp in those teeth and bank them.
Ms. Sethy suddenly looked at Danya’s little white teeth in a whole new way. “We could make use of it, when we had just been giving it away to fairies!” she said.
In India, a fascination with stem-cell medicine combined with a growing demographic of affluent parents who pour their resources into one or two children have consumerized the stem-cell banking industry like nowhere else.
In obstetricians’ offices today, the pamphlets from different cord-blood banking operations form a tower six inches high. There are also a number of companies that bank baby teeth (although Stemade insists it is the only one with facilities to bank the dental pulp stem cells in-country, while the rest export the teeth.) In women’s magazines, cryptic advertisements from companies such as LifeCell use the line “Periods. Proof that women are luckier than men!” LifeCell banks stem cells from menstrual blood.
India has no laws, and only unenforceable guidelines on what stem-cell research is permitted here; many institutions are working on the fringes of mainstream scientific pursuits, using embryonic, fetal and umbilical stem cells in experiments that are not permitted in North America. The Indian stem-cell industry – including research and therapies, many unproven, provided to international medical tourists – is worth an estimated $500-million a year. As a consequence, there is a comparatively high level of awareness of stem-cell medicine in the general population.
At the same time, as technological processes for the preservation of cells are “indigenized,” they are becoming considerably cheaper to operate in India than they are in the West. That, combined with the sheer size of the Indian market, makes a practice such as banking baby teeth or menstrual cells suddenly feasible as a mainstream pursuit.
Researchers in India confirm that dental cells have shown considerable utility in trials, but that doesn’t mean they will cure sick children, at least not any time soon.
Rakhi Pal, a scientist with Advanced Neuroscience Allies, a stem-cell research firm in Bangalore, sounded a note of caution for parents. “There is a lot of hype around it,” she said. “Clinical trials are ongoing to be able to establish this as a conventional mode of treatment and only time will tell. It would take a few years before these trials are completed on a large population and it is accepted as a part of mainstream therapy.” Parents, she said, should not lose sight of the fact that stem cells aren’t a miracle fix for “any or all diseases their children might suffer from.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stem Cell Research Shows Promise For Uncovering Bipolar Disorder Secrets

Embryonic Stem Cell
After months of uncertainty, embryonic stem cell research was deemed appropriate to be federally funded.
Stem cell research conducted at the University of Michigan is showing new promise in unlocking the biological secrets that make up bipolar disorder.
By taking stem cell lines from the skin of bipolar adults, scientists will be able to uncover new findings from the cell donors, who are participating in the study.
According to Melvin McInnis, Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression at the U-M Medical School and associate director the U-M Depression Center, the new research could lead to treatments that are more effective.
“Currently the best treatments for bipolar disorder are only effective for 30 percent to 50 percent of patients. New discoveries have been limited, in part due to the lack of access to tissue and cells from individuals with bipolar disorder. But that is now changing because of the Prechter research program and advances in stem cell research,” McInnis said, as quoted by www.uofmhealth.org.
The new stem cell lines were created out of fibroblasts taken from skin samples from both adults with bipolar disorder and without the disorder. In the lab, scientists manipulate these cells to develop into different types of body cells.
Sue O’Shea, Ph.D., a professor of cell and developmental biology at the Medical School, says the goal is to develop 30 cell lines. So far, five have been created.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kyoto U. gets U.S. stem cell tech. patent / Breakthrough to accelerate research

Kyoto University has been granted a U.S. patent for the technology used in creating induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs, that can be used in regenerative medicine to produce different types of cells for various tissues and organs, such as nerves, heart and liver.
The iPSC breakthrough by Kyoto University Prof. Shinya Yamanaka was recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a notice dated Aug. 5, the state-run university said Thursday.
As the United States is by far the world's largest medical market, Kyoto University effectively has 80 percent of the global market in terms of patent acquisition of this high-value technology because it already has obtained patents in Japan and Europe.
The patent covers two basic methods of creating iPSCs--producing pluripotent cells similar to embryonic stem cells by injecting three kinds of genes into skin and other somatic cells, and by inserting two kinds of genes and proteins with cellular multiplication properties into somatic cells.
The patent also covers a group of genes similar to those used for iPSC production, but not directly used in the two methods.
As the iPSC patent granted in Japan does not cover such genes, the U.S. patent has a much broader application, according to analysts.
The patent approved in Europe in July for Yamanaka's breakthrough, however, is even wider in scope, covering substances to be created by genes employed in the technology, in addition to ones similar to them, they said.
Kyoto University filed an application for a patent with the U.S. patent office in June 2008. The patent it was granted is good through June 25, 2027, the university officials said.
After first receiving a patent in Japan in September 2008, the iPSC technology has so far been granted patents in more than 40 countries.
The U.S. patent system is different from that of other countries, as it does not issue a patent merely on the submission of an application. Instead, it decides on patent eligibility after examining in detail who should be recognized as the true inventor or developer, irrespective of who applies first for a patent.
The latest U.S. decision means Yamanaka has been recognized as the authentic developer of the iPSC technology.
This has concluded the patent race in which a number of highly respected researchers sought a similar U.S. patent after Kyoto University made its application.
If the iPSCs are put into practice, their applications are expected to be conducive to advancing regenerative medicine, for instance, by transplanting nerve cells necessary to treat spinal cord damage, the analysts said.
Hopes are also high that iPSC technology will make it possible to test the effectiveness of new drugs and their toxicity prior to clinical tests, they said.
To broaden the range of iPSC-related studies, Kyoto University will provide the technology to universities and other nonprofit research organizations free of charge, while offering it to other bodies at relatively low fees, the university officials noted.
At a press conference Thursday, Yamanaka said: "For Kyoto University, a public entity, to acquire iPSC patents is of great importance in that researchers around the world will be able to carry out iPSC studies much more easily.
"We would like to see our endeavors in developing iPSCs prove truly useful by carrying out further studies in tandem with researchers around the world to advance regenerative medicine and develop new drugs."
(Aug. 13, 2011)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gov. Rick Perry's Surgery Sparks Debate

By Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: August 05, 2011
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Texas Gov. Rick Perry received an injection of his own stem cells during spinal fusion surgery last month and wants his state to be a leader in the use of adult stem cells in medical treatment.
But using a concentrated mixture of adult stem cells to fuse bone hasn't been tested in any major U.S. trials, raising questions of whether a governor (and reportedly a potential Republican presidential candidate) should be advocating an unproven medical procedure.
Perry and a state representative who has multiple sclerosis championed a healthcare bill that created an adult stem cell bank in Texas. A month after Perry signed that bill into law, his friend, Stanley Jones, MD, a Houston-based orthopedist, performed spinal fusion surgery on the governor using Perry's own stem cells to treat a recurring spinal injury, according to an article in the Texas Tribune.
The Tribune also said that Jones is a major advocate for adult stem cell therapy: Jones says he was cured of his debilitating arthritis after receiving injections of his own stem cells in Japan.
Experts contacted by ABC News/MedPage Today, who weren't familiar with the specifics of Perry's surgery, guessed that the governor had mesenchymal stem cells cultured from a biopsy of his own marrow or fat, that those cells were concentrated in a lab, and then were reinjected onto a scaffold-like device implanted in the spine.
Following the surgery, according to the Texas Tribune, Perry and Jones reportedly urged the Texas Medical Board to hold a meeting to explore ways to regulate the procedure in Texas.
The procedure is similar to spinal fusion surgery using a piece of bone harvested from the patient's own iliac crest to fuse two or more vertebrae. However, mesenchymal stem cells have a higher stem cell concentration than what is found in the iliac crest, and after the cells are spun in a centrifuge, the stem cells become even more concentrated.
Mesenchymal stem cells differ from iliac bone cells because they are multipotent, meaning they can turn into bone, fat, cartilage, muscle, and skin.
There have not been any phase III clinical trials that tested the utility and safety of stem cell spinal fusion procedures, nor have there been any published trials of the procedure in the U.S.
A Chinese study randomized 56 patients with degenerative disc disorder, lumbar instability, or spinal stenosis to receive either their own iliac crest bone, or enriched mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow. The mesenchymal stem cells were enriched and spun, which researchers found greatly increased the concentration of stem cells. They concluded the enriched mesenchymal stem cells are "a good bone substitute in posterior spinal fusion."
Nick Shamie, MD, president of the American College of Spine Surgery and an associate professor at UCLA, said he used a similar method in patients and has had "numerous" examples of success. In one case, Shamie treated a young woman who was suffering from painful vertebra slippage for 12 years. He used her own stem cells to fuse her spine, and two-and-a-half months after surgery she is pain-free, he toldMedPage Today.
However, there is some concern about what happens to cells when they are concentrated.
Bryon Petersen, PhD, a stem cell researcher at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, N.C., said that culturing cells in a lab for a long period of time could potentially have a "deleterious" effect on the cells and transform them into potentially cancer-causing cells. Those cells must be carefully weeded out before being injected into a patient, he said in an email to MedPage Today and ABC News.
However, he added that the idea of using one's own stem cells to cure an ailment -- "self healing self" as he phrased it -- is a "very real possibility" and a "technology that the United States should actively be pursuing."
While Shamie and Peterson expressed excitement about stem cell spinal fusion, other experts contacted by ABC News/MedPage Today said the procedure is untested and not ready to be marketed to the American public.
George Daley, MD, PhD, a professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, pointed to the dearth of evidence on the value of injecting mesenchymal stem cells, and said he worries that the procedure is being done based on anecdotes or observational trials.
"I suspect that what is going on here is part of the world-wide rush to commercialize stem cells prematurely, to capitalize on the hype and [make] a buck, long before the treatments have been proven safe and effective," Daley said in an email.
Richard Fessler, MD, professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, echoed Daley's sentiments.
"Although this is a promising technology for the future, at this point there is minimal evidence that it is effective in humans," he said in an email.
Jonathan Moreno, MD, professor of biomedical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, was harsher in his assessment:
"The medical claims being made for this 'treatment' are nonsense," he said, also in an email.
Moreno dismissed the science of the procedure, but said the political ramifications of the Perry situation are especially interesting: "Namely, how talk of a stem cell industry in Texas would cause anxiety among cultural conservatives that such an effort could involve more controversial forms of research, like embryonic stem cells," he said.
Adult stem cells are not the same as embryonic stem cells. Perry -- and many conservatives -- oppose using cells from human embryos for research.
Daley pointed to another political issue: A governor using his power to promote a procedure that hasn't been proven.
"It's sad when someone in such a powerful position like the governor of a major state can act without the benefit of evidence-based medicine," he said.
Still, others like Peterson are waiting to see how the new technology evolves.
"It will be interesting to see just what happens in this case and hopefully many more cases to come," he said.
This article was developed in collaboration with ABC News. 

Friday, August 5, 2011


At laboratory. Photo: EPA
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Rob Sachs: Last week the Obama Administration celebrated a victory, in which a federal judge ruled that federal-funded research on human embryonic stem cells is legal. The decision in Sherley vs. Sebelius case ended nearly a year of uncertainty over whether embryonic stem cells research supported by National Health Institute (NIH) would suddenly be shut down. The decision also caps a decade of ups and downs with stem cell policy that began in August 2001, when President George W. Bush announced NIH would fund some research on some emryotic stem cells, however only on existing cell lines.
Jessica Jordan: Voice of Russia’s Jamila Bay talked with one of the nation’s leading bioethicists on the topic, Dr. Ronald Lindsay, the author of Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmasand President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, whose mission is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanistic values.
Jamila Bay: Why are stem cells and the research thereof considered an issue of controversy?
Ronald Lindsay:  Because a certain segment of the population believes that embryo, or actually the zygote – that is the conceived egg – but certainly the embryo is entitled to if not all the protections of an adult human being than certainly most of protections. In other words, they do not see any significant moral distinction between an adult human being and an embryo. Therefore to take any action that will result in the destruction or the harming of an embryo is, for them, deeply immoral.
Jamila Bay:  Is it fair to say that that fundamental belief is the reason for the Dickey-Wicker amendment?
Ronald Lindsay:  That is correct.
Jamila Bay:  Can you tell us what exactly that amendment is and what it said?
Ronald Lindsay:  Sure. The Dickey-Wicker amendment prohibits the use of any federal funds that would result in the creation of an embryo for research purposes or would result in the destruction or injury of an embryo. So it’s clear, for example, that a scientist cannot receive a ten-million-dollar grant with the idea that he would use that money to fertilize eggs, create embryos that would then be used for whatever research purpose that would be prohibited under current federal law. What’s not clear and what some of the recent litigations have been about is that law also prevents the federal government from funding research on embryonic stem cell lines. The courts now have decided the law doesn’t prohibit that. That is done by a company, let’s say, and they do that with their own money, they then try to generate a stem cell line from that. That is, if the line of basic stem cells continues proliferating, they are allowed to do research on different types of organs because stem cells, of course, can turn into any type of organ in the body. And that research is what the federal government would like to fund. And now the courts have decided that, yes, they can fund that.
Jamila Bay:  What allows research to be done on the line of the stem cell?
Ronald Lindsay:  The process is that if the zygote is conceived, allowed to mature to a certain stage, typically, to an eight-cell stage called the blastocyst – and many of these embryos for research purposes are acquired from in vitro fertilization procedures, and what typically happens is that you generate a lot more embryos, or blastocysts, if you will, that can be used, because they like to have a surplus. Then, once the couple actually succeeds in getting one implanted in the woman, we have surplus embryos, or blastocysts, and the question arises what you do with them. Companies would like to use them and the government would like to use them or support research on them in ways that would help the general public. Or the alternative would be to simply throw them out in the trash. So, you have these blastocysts and what is done is that a cell or cells are removed from the blastocyst, which means that it would be prevented from further development. And then those cells are cultivated, and if the cultivation is successful, they are put in fluid, which allows them to maintain vitality. If the cultivation is successful they will begin to divide and multiply. Theoretically, they are immortal, or the line is immortal, in other ways you can keep going on and on and on with them. The reality is that after a certain number of years they tend to develop some mutations that are not useful for research or for other purposes. But, theoretically, they can keep dividing forever. Because in this early blastocyst stage there’s been no differentiation in terms of what purpose they might have ultimately served, if they had developed further, they can’t in fact be turned into different types of organs with the proper stimulation, the proper types of boost that the scientists would use to carry out the research. So, you start off the stem cell line, you can mix it, as you will, with muscle cells or nerve cells, with other types of tissue that can be part of a lung or a kidney and it’ll start to acquire the characteristics of that organ because it has that power called “pluripotency”, meaning that it has the power to turn into a number of different things. One of the things that people who are very much opposed to embryonic stem cell research tend to overlook is that you need a uterus – it’s like the role of woman is just completely blanked up. An embryo on its own is not going to develop into a fetus and then perhaps a baby. It needs an environment to do that and a uterus is not a passive receptacle – it provides a lot of nutrients and other genetic information that allows the embryo to turn into a fetus and then possibly to develop. So, if embryos are on their own, if there are excess embryos from IVF research, they are not going anywhere, they are not to develop into anything, that is to say they will be thrown into the trash.