Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Info on hESC Treatment of Jockey with Severed Spinal Cord

Benoit & Associates
Jockey Michael Martinez (left), with cousin Alex Solis.
More details are emerging on the possible use of experimental hESC treatments within the next two weeks on a California jockey with a severed spinal cord.

According to an article yesterday by Chuck Dybdal in the Daily Racing Form, which appears to have carried the first account of the possible treatment, it involves neurological specialists at Northwestern University, presumably at the Acute Spinal Cord Injury Center at Northwest Memorial Hospital.

(Subsequently, it appears that the first story may have been in the New York Daily News on Sunday.)

The center is a nationally recognized leader in spinal cord injury treatment, one of only 14 model systems in the country for spinal cord injury treatment. The center's Web site says it is involved in using stem cells to repair damaged spinal cord and is aggressive in placing patients in innovative rehabilitation programs.

Richard Fessler, a professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern, is evaluating the jockey's MRIs, which are being taken at UC San Francisco, according to a story on page B6 of the sports section of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Neither the story in the Racing Form or in the Chronicle mentions whether treatment involves Geron, Inc., of Menlo Park, Ca., which is conducting the only hESC clinical trial in the country.

In response to a query, Anna Krassowska, a spokeswoman for Geron, told the California Stem Cell Report,
“As you know, there is no other hESC-based therapy cleared for clinical
trials. However, I can't shed any light on this story.”
We also have queried Northwestern and Fessler concerning the possible treatment of the jockey.

The Racing Form story said,
“(Jockey Michael) Martinez suffered a severed spinal cord in a Sept. 12 racing accident at Golden Gate Fields. He needs the MRI to determine if there is enough white matter – a component of the central nervous system that carries messages to and from the brain – for the stem cells to have a chance to work in the experimental treatments, according to Golden Gate Fields track physician Dr. David Seftel.”
Dybdal also wrote,
“After initially refusing to release Martinez’s records so that Northwestern University’s physicians could review them, Highland Hospital agreed late Friday to release them. Highland had cited laws that prohibit the release of the records to anyone but Martinez, who has been rendered incapable of responding to specific requests because of the nature of his injuries.

“A hearing was to be conducted Monday in an Alameda County court as Martinez’s parents, who have come to the United States from Panama, seek to become their son’s temporary conservators for health-related issues. If they are named conservators, Martinez’s parents could approve the experimental stem-cell treatments for their son.

“Martinez has shown continued progress from his injuries, Seftel said. He is able to eat soft foods and drink. All IVs except one have been removed.

“'He’s looking better and shows continual neurological improvement,' said Seftel.

“Seftel said the improvement in his condition would allow Martinez to be flown to Chicago on a private jet with a doctor and nurse in attendance, but that he would not need a specially equipped Medi-Vac flight.”
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1 comment:

  1. This story just broke my heart. I had a flash of all the nightmares of my son's injury, still vivid after 16 years. The family is going through Hell. If there is anyone who can reach out to them, I would be glad to talk with them through an interpreter if one was available. I want them to know we are fighting for them too. That is what the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine is about, and why we must pass some sort of stem cell protection act in Congress to keep the progress going. I appreciate the California Stem Cell Report for bringing this story together. We must not forget how important this is. best, Don C. Reed