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More Banquet

Posted by katewillette on April 15, 2008

Our friend Todd, who lives in NYC (and is an actor and a lifetime fan of Superman) is about to sing the song a friend of his wrote just after Chris Reeve died.  He’s just described meeting Chris and Dana at a theatre one night in New York.  The song is called “Look at You Now.”  (The friend’s name is Nick Hinton; give him some love here . . . http://www.nickhinton.com/nickhinton.com.html)

They play a video John Smith made from images taken at last year’s rally; I see a lot of faces I’ve been missing for the last couple of days . . . . John narrates underneath the pictures, the story of our efforts to get this bloody legislation passed.  What I see in the images is people looking happy, big smiles ,good friends.  Todd sings the music Dana sang at her last gig, followed by When You Wish Upon a Star.  (Todd’s actually pretty much a star as far as everybody at w2w is concerned.)  John MacDonald gets up to give us a few words . . . and then Todd tells us that actors are always trained to use their voices and bodies to change the energy in the room — which is his way of leading into yet another amazing performance by Professor X.

The greatest guy ever.

There must be a youtube.  I’ll go find one.  Try this http://youtube.com/watch?v=dUWKP_pm_7Y

The guy is able to get everybody’s energy up, even at the end of 2 long days like this.  He rocks, totally  rocks.  So — goodnight and look for the last news from here sometime tomorrow.  We’re doing a congressional briefing at a quarter to early, so I’m going to bed.

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Breakout Session 4: Dr. Davies and Dr. Simon Archibald

Posted by katewillette on April 13, 2008

The name of the talk is Decorin and GRP-derived astrocytes.  The video Bruce made of his talk last year is on youtube, for those who want to see part A.  I’ll go find a link if I can before I post this.  This is it: http://youtube.com/watch?v=QnBsnhzy1Ug

The glial scar is a physical and molecular barrier to axon growth — a fact that’s been known for a long time.  There’s an image up from a 1999 article in the Journal of Neuroscience that shows the green lines of axons straggling toward this thing that looks like a joint in a knee, where they stop dead. It’s the injury site.

His lab has been after 2 strategies:

Overcome scar and inhibitors to promote axon regeneration/plasticity.

Replace lost glia to bridge axon growth across the injury site.

What’s the right cell type for a bridge?

Non-CNS cell types (Schwann, engineered fibroblasts, olfactory ensheathing cells, macrophages, esc’s, marrow stromal cells) plus CNS cells, and 70% of adult CNS cells are astrocytes . . . but there are different kinds. Can we make the right kind?

Embryonic Stem Cells give rise to neuron prestricted precursors and glial restricted precursors (GRPs).  GRP’s can make either GDA Bmp or GDA gp130’s

The BMP’s have low inhibitor levels, they’re high in growth factors, and highly supportive of axon growth.  The gp130’s are the exact opposite.

So, where do you get grp cells?  From esc’s, unless you can genetically engineer the adult stem cell . . .a process that is not done yet.

So when you transplant the gdabmp’s what happens?  A ton of cells migrate into the margin of the injury and they align themselves very neatly — the opposite of what happens normally, where cells are all mixed up and helter skelter. They actually measured the misalignment between axons as about 59 degrees without the astrocyte gdabmp and 11 degrees with it.

These are the same slides we saw last year, and they still knock me out. All this was published in the Journal of Biology last year, after Dr. Davies was good enough to share it with us.  So what about functional recovery? The rats that got the good astrocytes are at almost full recovery — and the ones that got the bad ones get nada.

Neuropathic Pain . . . (sometimes called allodynia) can be made WORSE by implanting “naive” neural stem cells.  They turned into grp’s, then the bad kind of astrocytes, and pain was the result.  So they tested gdabmp, gdagp130, and grp’s — the rats that got the bmp’s were like normal rats, but the others were in serious pain–so serious that they had to stop the experiment ahead of time.

This is a major reason for people to hold off on the idea of getting any kind of undifferentiated stem cell injection to get recovery.  It’s not unlikely that the result will be more neuropathic pain.

Bottom line: the bmp astrocytes are all gain and no pain. I like that combination.

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Morning Gathering

Posted by katewillette on April 13, 2008

Argghh, my body still thinks it’s in Seattle, so be kind if I sound groggy.  It’s just after 8 am here, and the hordes are starting to gather around a table full of bagels and fruit.  Across from me is an impressive array of displays from some of our sponsors, and old friends keep popping by for a hug –Dan from North Carolina, Todd, Dr. Young, Dr. Davies, Sue Maus’s charming family from Minnesota, all of whom sound just like my relatives.  It’s a lively group for what feels to me like the dead of night.  In a few minute they’ll be gathering us into the ballroom for opening ceremonies . . . we wish you were here.

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Saturday Night in DC

Posted by katewillette on April 13, 2008

Hi, everybody!

I’m writing this from the ballroom at the Kellogg Conference Center in Gallaudet University.  There are maybe 50 people in the room, munching on pizza and nuts and drinking god stuff from the bar in the corner.

Marilyn and I are discussing how tough it is to do yoga; Dr. Davies and Dr. Archibald are across the room talking about what they’re going to present tomorrow.  The executive director of the NJ Commission on Spinal Cord Research is at my side watching me type.  Leo’s at the next table making people laugh.

This is a test to see how well this blog is going to work.  Talk with y’all tomorrow ~

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