The Heat is On!

Technically I have a TON of work to do. I brought all sorts of stuff home from the office with good intentions. However, we took the pups to the vet, I satisfied a once-a-month contract I have, we got lunch out, I got a haircut, I took the puppygirls out to run, I went out to cross-country ski in the church field (okay, around in circles but you do what you can when you can’t drive), then I came in and vacuumed, swept and dusted. If it is alright with you, I am done!

Tomorrow is another day. With the things I did today done, I can better concentrate on my other stuff. Right? Hope so, because it really is a crapload of work! I did say no rest for the wicked before; right?

In the meantime, I just wanted to point out how well some other people have been working! Medscape reported that in November a team from Jerusalem and a team from Miami jointly reported great things about the stem cell research they have been doing for dry AMD and Stargardt’s. Their product had passed phases 1 and 2 of the clinical trial with flying colors and is now ready to roll into phase 3. What was really exciting was the report of visual improvement in 18 out of 26 patients.

Now mind you, there was no real control group and the results could be a fluke. However, their star lab rat showed an incredible 38 letter improvement in her treated eye with a loss of two letters in her untreated eye. Not too shabby.

Since Medscape named only the team leaders and not the product, I did a little backwards sleuthing and discovered the head Israeli researcher, Elat Banin, has been working with a product called OpRegen and that is what she presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting in November. The parent company is BioTime.

According to a press release from BioTime the stem cells are delivered through the subretinal space by “simple intraocular injection”. The cells are “xeno free” meaning there were no animal products used in their production. Immunosuppressants are required for three to four months.

More good news is OpRegen has been granted fast track status by the FDA.  Expedited reviews, etc., should lead to faster release.

Now for the good/bad news. The clinical trials.gov number is nct02286089 and they are recruiting! That is, they are recruiting in Israel and California, specifically Jerusalem, Petah Tikva, Rehovot and Tel Aviv as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Not sure what happened to the Bascom-Palmer, Miami, site but you could call and check it out. If you are not in any of those locations you are probably s.o.l. That is the bad news. [Lin/Linda here: ‘s.o.l.’ is short for ‘surely out of luck’! ::grin::]

If you know anyone with advanced, dry AMD who lives in Israel or California, give them a head’s up. They might want to try to become a lab rat.

And we in other areas? Remember this is not just a race between research and our failing eyesight. It is also a race among the drug companies. The one who brings in a viable product first, gets the BIG money. I suspect this news put a fire under more than a few. We can only profit from their singed bums!

The heat is on and great things are happening! This is a the best time in history to be going blind.

Written January 20th, 2018

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