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Precision Medicine: What Is Cancer, Really? Scientists overview here.

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

The men and women who are trying to bring down cancer are starting to join forces rather than work alone. Together, they are winning a few of the battles against the world’s fiercest disease. For this unprecedented special report, we visited elite cancer research centers around the country to find out where we are in the war.

I. Precision Medicine: What Is Cancer, Really?

When you visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, you expect to feel devastated. It starts in the waiting room. Oh, here we go with the little red wagons, you think, observing the cattle herd of them rounded up by the entrance to the Patient Care Center. Oh, here we go with the crayon drawings of needles. The itch begins at the back of your throat, and you start blinking very fast and mentally researching how much money you could donate without starving. Near a row of arcade games, a preteen curls his face into his mother’s shoulder while she strokes his head. Oh, here we go.

But the more time you spend at St. Jude, the more that feeling is replaced with wonder. In a cruel world you’ve found a free hospital for children, started by a Hollywood entertainer as a shrine to the patron saint of lost causes. There is no other place like this. Corporations that have nothing to do with cancer—nothing to do with medicine, even—have donated vast sums of money just to be a part of it. There’s a Chili’s Care Center. The cafeteria is named for Kay Jewelers.

Scott Newman’s office is in the Brooks Brothers Computational Biology Center, where a team of researchers is applying computer science and mathematics to the question of why cancer happens to children. Like many computer people, Newman is very smart and a little quiet and doesn’t always exactly meet your eyes when he speaks to you. He works on St. Jude’s Genomes for Kids project, which invites newly diagnosed patients to have both their healthy and tumor cells genetically sequenced so researchers can poke around.

“Have you seen a circle plot before?” Newman asks, pulling out a diagram of the genes in a child’s cancer. “If I got a tattoo, it would be one of these.” Around the outside of the circle plot is something that looks like a colorful bar code. Inside, a series of city skylines. Through the center are colored arcs like those nail-and-string art projects students make in high school geometry class. The diagram represents everything that has gone wrong within a child’s cells to cause cancer. It’s beautiful.

A Genetic Disaster: This circular visualization shows real gene mutations found in 3,000 pediatric cancers at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Genes with sequence mutations are labeled in blue; those with structural variations are in red; and those

“These are the genes in this particular tumor that have been hit,” Newman says in a Yorkshire accent that emphasizes the t at the end of the word hit in a quietly violent way. “And that’s just one type of thing that’s going on. Chromosomes get gained or lost in cancer. This one has gained that one, that one, that one, that one,” he taps the page over and over. “And then there are structural rearrangements where little bits of genome get switched around.” He points to the arcs sweeping across the page. “There are no clearly defined rules.”

It’s not like you don’t have cancer and then one day you just do. Cancer—or, really, cancers, because cancer is not a single disease—happens when glitches in genes cause cells to grow out of control until they overtake the body, like a kudzu plant. Genes develop glitches all the time: There are roughly twenty thousand genes in the human body, any of which can get misspelled or chopped up. Bits can be inserted or deleted. Whole copies of genes can appear and disappear, or combine to form mutants. The circle plot Newman has shown me is not even the worst the body can do. He whips out another one, a snarl of lines and blocks and colors. This one would not make a good tattoo.

“As a tumor becomes cancerous and grows, it can accumulate many thousands of genetic mutations. When we do whole genome sequencing, we see all of them,” Newman says. To whittle down the complexity, he applies algorithms that pop out gene mutations most likely to be cancer-related, based on a database of all the mutations researchers have already found. Then, a genome analyst manually determines whether each specific change the algorithm found seems likely to cause problems. Finally, the department brings its list of potentially important changes to a committee of St. Jude’s top scientists to discuss and assign a triage score. The mutations that seem most likely to be important get investigated first.

It took thirteen years and cost $2.7 billion to sequence the first genome, which was completed in 2003. Today, it costs $1,000 and takes less than a week. Over the last two decades, as researchers like Newman have uncovered more and more of the individual genetic malfunctions that cause cancer, teams of researchers have begun to tinker with those mutations, trying to reverse the chaos they cause. (The first big success in precision medicine was Gleevec, a drug that treats leukemias that are positive for a common structural rearrangement called the Philadelphia chromosome. Its launch in 2001 was revolutionary.) Today, there are eleven genes that can be targeted with hyperspecific cancer therapies, and at least thirty more being studied. At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, 30 to 40 percent of incoming patients now qualify for precision medicine studies.

Charles Mullighan,a tall, serious Australian who also works at St. Jude, is perhaps the ideal person to illustrate how difficult it will be to cure cancer using precision medicine. After patients’ cancer cells are sequenced, and the wonky mutations identified, Mullighan’s lab replicates those mutations in mice, then calls St. Jude’s chemical library to track down molecules—some of them approved medicines from all over the world, others compounds that can illuminate the biology of tumors—to see if any might help.

New York: Britta Weigelt and Jorge Reis-Filho use police forensics techniques to repair old tumor samples at Memorial Sloan Kettering so the samples can be genetically profiled.

If Mullighan is lucky, one of the compounds he finds will benefit the mice, and he’ll have the opportunity to test it in humans. Then he’ll hope there are no unexpected side effects, and that the cancer won’t develop resistance, which it often does when you futz with genetics. There are about twenty subtypes of the leukemia Mullighan studies, and that leukemia is one of a hundred different subtypes of cancer. This is the kind of precision required in precision cancer treatment—even if Mullighan succeeds in identifying a treatment that works as well as Gleevec, with the help of an entire, well-funded hospital, it still will work for only a tiny proportion of patients.

Cancer is not an ordinary disease. Cancer is the disease—a phenomenon that contains the whole of genetics and biology and human life in a single cell. It will take an army of researchers to defeat it.

Luckily, we’ve got one.

Interlude

“I used to do this job out in L.A.,” says the attendant at the Hertz counter at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. “There, everyone is going on vacation. They’re going to the beaach or Disneyland or Hollywood or wherever.

“Because of MD Anderson, I see more cancer patients here. They’re so skinny. When they come through this counter, they’re leaning on someone’s arm. They can’t drive themselves. You think, there is no way this person will survive. And then they’re back in three weeks, and in six months, and a year. I’m sure I miss some, who don’t come through anymore because they’ve died. But the rest? They come back.”

II. Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy: You Have the Power Within You!

On a bookshelf in Jim Allison’s office at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston (and on the floor surrounding it) are so many awards that some still sit in the boxes they came in. The Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award looks like the Winged Victory statue in the Louvre. The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, whose benefactors include Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, and Mark Zuckerberg, came with $3 million.

“I gotta tidy that up sometime,” Allison says.

Allison has just returned to the office from back surgery that fused his L3, L4, and L5 vertebrae, which has slightly diminished his Texas rambunctiousness. Even on painkillers, though, he can explain the work that many of his contemporaries believe will earn him the Nobel Prize: He figured out how to turn the immune system against tumors.

“One day, the miracles won’t be miracles at all. They’ll just be what happens.”

Allison is a basic scientist. He has a Ph.D., rather than an M.D., and works primarily with cells and molecules rather than patients. When T-cells, the most powerful “killer cells” in the immune system, became better understood in the late 1960s, Allison became fascinated with them. He wanted to know how it was possible that a cell roaming around your body knew to kill infected cells but not healthy ones. In the mid-1990s, both Allison’s lab and the lab of Jeffrey Bluestone at the University of Chicago noticed that a molecule called CTLA-4 acted as a brake on T-cells, preventing them from wildly attacking the body’s own cells, as they do in autoimmune diseases.

Allison’s mother died of lymphoma when he was a child and he has since lost two uncles and a brother to the disease. “Every time I found something new about how the immune system works, I would think, I wonder how this works on cancer?” he says. When the scientific world discovered that CTLA-4 was a brake, Allison alone wondered if it might be important in cancer treatment. He launched an experiment to see if blocking CTLA-4 would allow the immune system to attack cancer tumors in mice. Not only did the mice’s tumors disappear, the mice were thereafter immune to cancer of the same type.

Ipilimumab (“ipi” for short) was the name a small drug company called Medarex gave the compound it created to shut off CTLA-4 in humans. Early trials of the drug, designed just to show whether ipi was safe, succeeded so wildly that Bristol Myers Squibb bought Medarex for $2.4 billion. Ipilimumab (now marketed as Yervoy) became the first “checkpoint inhibitor”: It blocks one of the brakes, or checkpoints, the immune system has in place to prevent it from attacking healthy cells. Without the brakes the immune system can suddenly, incredibly, recognize cancer as the enemy.

“You see the picture of that woman over there?” Allison points over at his desk. Past his lumbar-support chair, the desk is covered in papers and awards and knickknacks and frames, including one containing a black card with the words “Never never never give up” printed on it. Finally, the photo reveals itself, on a little piece of blue card stock.

That’s the first patient I met,” Allison says. “She was about twenty-four years old. She had metastatic melanoma. It was in her brain, her lungs, her liver. She had failed everything. She had just graduated from college, just gotten married. They gave her a month.”

The woman, Sharon Belvin, enrolled in a phase-two trial of ipilimumab at Memorial Sloan Kettering, where Allison worked at the time. Today, Belvin is thirty-five, cancer- free, and the mother of two children. When Allison won the Lasker prize, in 2015, the committee flew Belvin to New York City with her husband and her parents to see him receive it. “She picked me up and started squeezing me,” Allison says. “I walked back to my lab and thought, Wow, I cure mice of tumors and all they do is bite me.” He adds, dryly, “Of course, we gave them the tumors in the first place.”

After ipi, Allison could have taken a break and waited for his Nobel, driving his Porsche Boxster with the license plate CTLA-4 around Houston and playing the occasional harmonica gig. (Allison, who grew up in rural Texas, has played since he was a teenager and once performed “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” onstage with Willie Nelson.) Instead, his focus has become one of two serious problems with immunotherapy: It only works for some people.

So far, the beneficiaries of immune checkpoint therapy appear to be those with cancer that develops after repeated genetic mutations—metastatic melanoma, non-small-cell lung cancer, and bladder cancer, for example. These are cancers that often result from bad habits like smoking and sun exposure. But even within these types of cancer, immune checkpoint therapies improve long-term survival in only about 20 to 25 percent of patients. In the rest the treatment fails, and researchers have no idea why.

Lately, Allison considers immune checkpoint therapy a “platform”—a menu of treatments that can be amended and combined to increase the percentage of people for whom it works. A newer drug called Keytruda that acts on a different immune checkpoint, PD-1, knocked former president Jimmy Carter’s metastatic melanoma into remission in 2015. Recent trials that blocked both PD-1 and CTLA-4 in combination improved long-term survival in 60 percent of melanoma patients. Now, doctors are combining checkpoint therapies with precision cancer drugs, or with radiation, or with chemotherapy. Allison refers to this as “one from column A, and one from column B.”

The thing about checkpoint inhibitor therapy that is so exciting—despite the circumscribed group of patients for whom it works, and despite sometimes mortal side effects from the immune system going buck-wild once the brakes come off—is the length of time it can potentially give people. Before therapies that exploited the immune system, response rates were measured in a few extra months of life. Checkpoint inhibitor therapy helps extremely sick people live for years. So what if it doesn’t work for everyone? Every cancer patient you can add to the success pile is essentially cured.

Jennifer Wargo and team remove lymph nodes from a melanoma patient.

Cure for blindness: Tooth sewn into man’s eyeball restores his full sight

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

A BLIND man has had his eyesight completely restored by Sydney surgeons — who sewed his tooth into his eyeball.

The risky but remarkable procedure involved planting a tiny lens inside the tooth, which now reflects light onto the back of the eye.

By using the patient’s own tooth, it ensures the body doesn’t reject it.

The operation, known as osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis, was recently performed twice at Sydney Eye Hospital, with one of the procedures being carried out on 72-year-old Goulburn man John Ings.

Mr Ings, whose procedure will feature on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes tonight, had progressively lost his sight as a result of the herpes virus. His vision has now been restored by the breakthrough operation.

Goulburn man John Ings’ vision has been restored. image www.newcures.info

The second patient, 50-year-old Cairns woman Leonie Garrett, has also had her sight improved, from barely being able to see the difference between light and dark to now having 20/20 vision.

The operation, which treats corneal blindness, is the only one of its kind being performed in the southern hemisphere.

It was carried out by two former classmates of the University of NSW, oral and maxillofacial specialist Dr Shannon Webber and oculoplastic surgeon Dr Greg Moloney.

How the tooth eyeball procedure works.image www.newcures.info

How the procedure works.

The pair trained extensively in Germany to learn the procedure, which has been performed there on a handful of occasions since it was first tried in 2004. A German specialist came to Australia to supervise the two operations.

The procedure is broken down into two stages. First the patient’s tooth is extracted, a hole is drilled through it and a small plastic lens is placed inside.

It is then sewn into the patient’s cheek, where it grows tissue over a period of several months.

“We rely on the tooth to gain its own blood and tissue supply so when it is removed from the mouth, what you have essentially is a living complex,” Dr Webber said.

The groundbreaking eye tooth operation is performed by Sydney surgeons image www.newcures.info

The groundbreaking operation is performed by Sydney surgeons.

Picture: 60 Minutes

John Ings after the successful eye operation image www.newcures.info

John Ings after the successful operation. Picture: 60 Minutes

A flap of skin and mucus membrane from inside the mouth is then sewn over the eyeball.

Three months later, the tooth lens is removed from the cheek and sewn over the patient’s blind eyeball, then covered with the flap of skin. An opening is made to allow the new lens to see out.

It projects light onto the patient’s macular, in the back of the eye, much as happens with the lens of a healthy cornea.

The tooth which helped restore Mr Ings’ sight.image www.newcures.info

The tooth which helped restore Mr Ings’ sight. Picture: 60 Minutes

Both Dr Maloney and Dr Webber now expect to operate two or three times a year in Australia through the public health system at Sydney Eye Hospital.

“It’s pretty incredible and something we have been building towards for several years,” Dr Webber said.

“So to have done it successfully on two occasions is extremely satisfying. Both patients are doing really well and Leonie, in particular, is an amazing case because she had virtually no ability to see at all.

“We anticipate doing two to three of these surgeries a year and it will really come down to a supply and demand thing.”

Each patient would be assessed by Sydney Eye Hospital.

For Mr Ings, the successful surgery now means he is able to watch his own procedure on television tonight — something that would not have been possible six months ago.

“Before the operation I wouldn’t have been able to watch anything,” he said yesterday.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

DOCTORS CURE & TREATMENT KILLED HIS PATIENT COURT FINDS & AWARDS COMPENSATION

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Newcastle Private Hospital.image www.newcures.info

Newcastle Private Hospital.NSW.Australia. Photo: Fiona Morris

Colleen Stefanyszyn, of the Newcastle suburb Merewether, vomited faecal material for several days before her death following surgery at Newcastle Private Hospital in December, 2008.

It was “the worst red flag that a surgeon would see”, a medical expert said during a NSW Supreme Court hearing that resulted in negligence findings against her gynaecologist and the hospital, and the possibility of contempt action against the hospital relating to the Supreme Court proceedings.

Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death was preventable, NSW Supreme Court Justice Monika Schmidt found in a decision on Tuesday that was highly critical of the hospital and its breaches of duty of care that contributed to Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death.

Justice Schmidt accepted Newcastle gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Oliver Brown’s admission that he breached his duty of care to Mrs Stefanyszyn and that it had resulted in her death.

Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death “could have been prevented, had available surgical steps been taken”, Justice Schmidt said.

Mrs Stefanyszyn, 61, had vaginal hysterectomy elective surgery at the hospital on December 1, 2008.

During the operation a loop of suture material “inadvertently looped around Mrs Stefanyszyn’s bowel”, resulting in a blockage, Justice Schmidt said.

She lived for just four days after the surgery, vomiting faecal matter from the third day, starting with a “coffee-coloured fluid” on the night of December 3.

While Dr Brown’s response to Mrs Stefanyszyn’s symptoms until the third day was reasonable, it was the medical experts’ common ground that his approach to her subsequent care “was not only wrong, but inexplicable, given her deteriorating condition” that included continued faecal vomiting, Justice Schmidt found.

“Despite Mrs Stefanyszyn not recovering from the surgery as was expected and her deteriorating condition, the cause of her symptoms was not investigated, the blockage was not identified and surgical steps necessary to remove it were not taken, with her death the result,” Justice Schmidt found.

“The result was that the blockage was not identified or addressed; infection set in; she repeatedly vomited faecal material; she inhaled some of that material with resulting pneumonia; her electrolytic balance became disordered; her oxygen levels deteriorated; and finally, she suffered a fatal cardiac arrest.”

Justice Schmidt was highly critical of the hospital, its breaches of duty to Mrs Stefanyszyn which were “more extensive than it finally admitted”, the failure of its staff to record observations of Mrs Stefanyszyn on the three days before her death, and the hospital’s decision not to call evidence to address issues of its breaches.

Dr Brown’s “failure to give evidence in support of his own case and the hospital’s failure to call evidence in its, is that such evidence would not have assisted their respective cases”, Justice Schmidt found.

The hospital’s failures “did not give rise to a mere possibility of injury, but actually materially contributed to the death which resulted from both its failures and those of Dr Brown”, Justice Schmidt found.

The matter returns to court on Friday where Justice Schmidt will consider whether the hospital should face contempt proceedings over aspects of the court case.

Justice Schmidt noted the hospital, Mrs Stefanyszyn’s husband Walter and daughters Leigh and Megan had settled a compensation case.

In a notice in the Newcastle Herald on the second anniversary of his wife’s death Mr Stefanyszyn wrote: “I have lost my soul’s companion, a life linked with my own. Day by day I miss you more, as I walk through life alone. Forever Wal.”

Her daughters wrote: “What is home without a mother? All things this world may send, but when we lost our darling mother, we lost our dearest friend. Love Leigh and Megan.”

Newcastle Herald

www.ozrural.com.au

T

Henry Sapiecha

WOUND HEALING CAN BE DONE WITH LASER STITCHING SAY ISRAELI SCIENTISTS IN THIS VIDEO

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Humans have been stitching up their wounds for millennia. Now Israeli scientists say they’ve found a way to bond incisions using lasers. And in the future a handheld laser the size of a pen could do


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Henry Sapiecha

THANK YOU TO THE STAFF OF MARYBOROUGH HOSPITAL QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

big hug for you sign image www.newcures.info

Just a kind word to the great courteous talented staff of the Maryborough hospital Queensland Australia.

Yours truly went there today for a foot repair after getting stabbed by a dangerous stick

woman doctor image www.newcures.info

Despite my earlier efforts over the last several days to do the Moucho thing & fix it myself

it became infected & I sought the hospitals help.

Not only did I get swift attention but the women medical staff surrounded me with kindness & care.

I should get damaged more often. They had gave me a local & cleaned up the wound, took my blood pressure

then put a antibiotic drip feed into me & gave me some painkillers to take away the shakes & pain that the infection was creating.

They said my temperature was over the top & I had a fever.

The outcome was great as the painkillers took away the edge of the pain with some relief for me

Perscribed me some anti b’s with pain killers & asked me to come back tomorrow for an ultrasound

to ensure other remnants of the offending stick were not lodged within the crevice of my foot

NOTE UPDATE..The ultrasound was done the next day & there was still a stick about 20mm long still imbedded deep in my heel.

That was removed the next day & I was deeply relieved it was all out finally.

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NOTE-If anybody ever complains about the service at Queenslands hospitals, they are mad.

I have nothing but praise for the facilities & staff.

I have had similar experiences over 4 times now in the last few years.

Words are not enough girls. Keep up the great work. We are proud of you & value your services.

Thank you

*[A special thanks to Leah who is an apprentice chef & was entertaining me in the waiting area]

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Henry Sapiecha

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Non-surgical procedure repairs severed nerves in just a few minutes

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

U.S. researchers have developed a nonsurgical technique to repair severed nerves in minutes instead of months (Image

U.S. researchers have developed a nonsurgical technique to repair severed nerves in minutes instead of months Image www.newcures.info

Professor George Bittner and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin Center for Neuroscience have developed a simple and inexpensive procedure to quickly repair severed peripheral nerves.

Professor George Bittner of the University of Texas at Austin image www.newcures.info

The team took advantage of a mechanism similar to that which permits many invertebrates to regenerate and repair nerve damage. The new procedure, based on timely application of common chemicals to the severed nerve ends, could help patients to recover nearly full function in days or weeks.

Peripheral nerves connect the central nervous system to the muscles and sensory organs. Nerves contain a bundle of cylindrical sheaths called axons, within which reside individual nerve cells. The axons are surrounded by Schwann cells which coat the axons with myelin.

Trauma to peripheral nerves is relatively common. A nerve that has been damaged by pressure or stretching generally has a severed nerve fiber inside an intact axon. A severed nerve occurs when both the nerve fiber and the axon are cut in two. Either injury can prevent muscles from working and result in loss of feeling from the area of the body served by that nerve, often for years thereafter.

Why is nerve repair in mammals such a slow process?

When a nerve fiber breaks within its axon, the broken end of the nerve fiber which is no longer connected to the central nervous system dies, leaving an empty axonal tube from the point of injury. The nerve fiber will slowly grow within the empty tube, at a rate of about an inch per month. Thus, even minor nerve injuries commonly take months or years to heal. Even then the regrown nerves rarely meet up perfectly with the original muscles and sensory organs, so that a significant amount of function is permanently lost.

In what is known as Grade V neurotmesis, the axon is severed along with the nerve fiber. The growth of the regenerating nerve fiber is not constrained, and can form a twisted ball of nerve fiber at the cut in the axon. Such nerve scars are called neuroma, and can be extremely painful. Recovery from Grade V nerve injury is never rapid, usually taking months or years for even partial recovery.

In current medical practice, a cut nerve is repaired by using microsutures to reconnect the cut ends of the axon in an extraordinarily delicate operation (imagine sewing together two limp strands of angel hair pasta).

The object is to provide a continuous axon to guide the regrowth of the nerve fiber. Again, the regrowth process takes months or years to be completed, and typically the function of the original nerve will remain impaired.

A new approach

Professor Bittner’s team had discovered earlier that when a plasma membrane is damaged, a calcium-mediated healing mechanism starts to draw small vesicles toward the site of the injury. Vesicles are small sacks made of lipid membranes which provide the material needed to repair an injured plasma membrane. However, when the vesicles are attracted to the site of a severed axon, both ends of the axon are sealed off by this repair mechanism, preventing regrowth of the nerve.

To avoid this problem, the first step of the Texas group’s nerve repair procedure is to bathe the area of the severed nerve with a calcium-free saline solution. By removing calcium from the injured axons, premature healing of the axon ends by this vesicle-based repair mechanism is prevented and even reversed. The damaged axons remain open, and can more easily be reattached. The calcium-free solution also contains antioxidants (e.g., methylene blue) to prevent degenerative changes in the axon and nerve.

In standard methods, the two ends of the severed axon would be reattached surgically. In contrast, Bittner’s procedure does not require such difficult microsurgery. Instead, the severed ends of the axon are pulled to within a micron of each other, whereupon a small amount of a solution containing polyethylene glycol (PEG) is injected. The PEG removes water from the axonal membranes, allowing the plasma membranes to merge together, thereby healing the axon.

At the same time, the nerve fibers are brought into close enough proximity that they receive chemical messengers from each other making them believe they are still whole, thereby preventing the death of the disconnected nerve fiber. The severed nerve fibers can then grow together in a short period of time and with relatively good fidelity to the original connectivity of the nerve fibers.

The final step of the procedure is to inject the area with a calcium-rich saline solution, which restarts the vesicle-based repair mechanism, thereby repairing any residual damage to the axonal membrane. At this point, the nerve is structurally repaired, and use of the affected area begins to return within a few hours.

Indeed, tests of Bittner’s procedure on rats have indicated an amazing level of success. The sciatic nerve of the rats was cleanly severed, resulting in paralysis of the affected limb.

Within minutes of awaking from Bittner’s procedure, many of the rats were immediately able to move the limb containing the severed nerve. The normal function of the limb was partially restored within a few days, and 80-90% of the pre-injury function was restored within two to four weeks. Control rats subjected to sciatic nerve cutting followed by a sham procedure permanently lost nearly all (95-98%) function in the affected limb.

The chemicals used in Bittner’s procedure are common and well understood in interaction with the human body. PEG is on the FDA’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list, and methylene blue is an aromatic dye used for staining histological samples, as well as in fabric stains and paints. Because of this, there is no clear obstacle to beginning human clinical trials of the procedure. Indeed, teams at Harvard Medical School and Vanderbilt Medical School and Hospitals are currently conducting studies aimed at gaining approval for such trials. While the procedure developed by Bittner’s group will not apply to the central nervous system or spinal cord injuries, the procedure offers hope to people whose futures include accidents involving damaged nerves.

Sources: University of Texas, News in Physiological Sciences

Henry Sapiecha

RADIATION TREATMENT TO WOMAN CAUSES SEVERE DAMAGE TO JAW FOR A CANCER SHE NEVER HAD

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Louisville: A US medical team has painstakingly repaired the disfiguring injuries to a woman’s face, caused by radiation treatments for a cancer she never had that caused a gaping hole in her cheek and made her an outcast in a former Soviet republic.

Lessya Kotelevskaya was recovering on Tuesday following the 16-hour surgery the day before at University of Louisville Hospital.

Her surgeon, Dr Jarrod Little, said the procedure to reconstruct her jawbone and cheek went according to plan.

jawbone radiation gone wrong woman image www.newcures.info

Lessya Kotelevskaya attends a news conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: AP

“Lessya cannot wait to get back to her normal life,” her cousin, Oleg Sennik, told reporters.

The 30-year-old’s life spiralled into tragedy when she was diagnosed with terminal jaw cancer at age 19 in Kazakhstan after she was accidentally elbowed in the face at a basketball game and her jaw became swollen. The damage from radiation treatments made it difficult to eat and talk.

Mr Sennik spent years searching for his younger cousin, and when he found her she was a mere 35 kilograms and living in the shadows of life in Kazakhstan, where the Ukrainian native had lived since childhood. By the time she found out the cancer diagnosis was wrong, she had lost her husband and their clothing boutique. She scraped by for years with odd jobs at night so people wouldn’t see her. At one point, she lived in the utility room of a car wash.

Dr Jarrod Little speaks at a news conference, showing images of Lessya Kotelevskaya's injuries.image www.newcures.info

Dr Jarrod Little speaks at a news conference, showing images of Lessya Kotelevskaya’s injuries. Photo: AP

“She was rejected everywhere she went before,” her cousin said.

Mr Sennik brought Ms Kotelevskaya and her young son to live with him last year in Louisville, Kentucky where they found medical care to turn around her life.

The surgery included removing a leg bone that was conformed into a new jawbone, with the skin becoming the new inside covering of her mouth.

“It couldn’t have gone any better,” said Dr Little, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon with University of Louisville Physicians.

Before the procedure, Ms Kotelevskaya could barely open her mouth and had to patch the hole in her right cheek to keep food and drink from seeping out. Now, she’ll be able to open her jaw without problem, Dr Little said.

Ms Kotelevskaya was not incurring expenses for the care. The surgery was described as a $US1 million-plus procedure by a University of Louisiana Physicians spokeswoman.

“She came with no money,” said Dr Little, who donated his time. “She didn’t have anything. With this devastating problem … her insurance status at that point is irrelevant to me. She needs help and we can help her.”

Ms Kotelevskaya is expected to remain in hospital for two to three weeks, Dr Little said. She will likely need “touch up” procedures later, he said. She can also receive dental implants in about six months.

The surgeon said Ms Kotelevskaya won’t look completely like she did before the cancer misdiagnosis and radiation. She will have some scarring on her cheek, “but my job is to make that as least noticeable as possible,” he said.

“Everybody has issues; she’s going to have her issues,” he said. “But these are not anything that’s going to keep her from doing anything she wants to do.”

Ms Kotelevskaya is in this country on a green card but hopes to become an American citizen, her cousin said.

Since arriving in Kentucky, she has started English lessons and got a driver’s licence. Her son, now 7, is adjusting well, and she hopes to become a nurse, following in the footsteps of those who cared for her, Mr Sennik said.

AP

Henry Sapiecha

COULD THIS BE THE WIFE SENT FROM HEAVEN TO MAN??MOUTH FIXED SHUT BY JUVENILE ARTHRITIS

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

WOMAN WITH JAW PERMANENTLY CLOSED TO HAVE OPEN SURGERY

A MARYBOROUGH QLD AUSTRALIA mum who hasn’t been able to open her mouth properly for more than 10 years is set to undergo major surgery to replace her lower and upper jaws this week.

Michelle Flaherty, who suffers from juvenile arthritis, has had permanently clenched teeth for the past 10 years after surgery failed to fix the problem more than 15 years ago.

“They took a piece of my rib and put it up near my jaw,” she said.

“The bone was supposed to grow, but instead it fused over the jaw and that’s what’s caused my jaw to lock.”
Lady Bird Lingerie

When Ms Flaherty goes under the knife tomorrow, it will be three years since she was supposed to have her jaw replacement at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

It was cancelled after a communication breakdown between herself and hospital staff – and Ms Flaherty was returned to the bottom of the waiting list.

“I’m very nervous,” she said.

“But I’m looking forward to being able to talk and eat normally again.”

Ms Flaherty said doctors would be replacing her jaws with a Lorenz TMJ – a prosthesis made from solid titanium.

“They haven’t told me much about it, but from what I’ve read I’m feeling pretty confident that the surgery will work,” she said.

Ms Flaherty was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis about five years of age and was featured in Women’s Weekly at age 12.

She still bears the scars from the many leg operations she has undergone since then.

“Arthritis in children was relatively unknown back then and the magazine did a story to make people aware,” she said.

She is expected to be in hospital for up to a week.

Food Morning

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

FACE TRANSPLANT TAKES MARATHON TIME TO COMPLETE SUCCESSFULLY & SEE THE BEFORE AND AFTER PICS

Monday, April 16th, 2012

COMPLETE FACE TRANSPLANT TOOK 36 HOURS OF SURGERY

A gun accident fifteen years ago left Richard Lee Norris without his lips, nose, and with limited movement of his mouth. Now after a marathon 36-hour surgical procedure described as “the most extensive full face transplant completed to date,” a team led by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez at the University of Maryland has restored Mr. Norris’ quality of life.

The procedure, which goes by the technical name of “vascularized composite allograft” (VCA), took place at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center on March 19-20 and involved over 150 nurses and professional staff.

CT scan before and after surgery (Image: University of Maryland Medical Center)

“We utilized innovative surgical practices and computerized techniques to precisely transplant the mid-face, maxilla and mandible including teeth, and a portion of the tongue,” said Dr. Rodriquez. “In addition, the transplant included all facial soft tissue from the scalp to the neck, including the underlying muscles to enable facial expression, and sensory and motor nerves to restore feeling and function. Our goal is to restore function as well as have aesthetically pleasing results.”

The achievement is the result of 10 years of research and the generosity of a anonymous donor who also saved five other lives through organ transplants – four of which also took place at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Source: University of Maryland Medical Center

Published by Henry Sapiecha

ROBOTICS TO DO SURGERY ON HUMANS

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Open-source project intends to advance robotic surgery


A couple of years ago, the Willow Garage robotics company gave ten of its PR2 robots away to deserving research groups. The idea behind the project was that these groups would use the PR2s for robotics research, then share their discoveries with each other, thus advancing the field farther than would be possible if they each had to build their own unique robots from scratch. Now, a similar but unrelated project is underway, and this time the robots are designed specifically to perform surgery.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha