What Really Cured Ted Harada?

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What Really Cured Ted Harada?

Postby sixwings » Mon Aug 05, 2013 11:54 pm

This is a question that must be asked because nobody seems to really know for sure. Ted Harada, an ALS patient, experienced a miraculous recovery after undergoing stem cell treatments in 2011 and 2012 as part of an FDA-approved trial. Neuralstem Inc., the company that derived the stem cells from the spinal cord tissue of a fetus, wasted no time in capitalizing on the apparent success of their technology. Ted Harada became an overnight celebrity.

But not everybody was convinced that Ted Harada got well as a result of the stem cell injections. Some people pointed out that Harada's improvements occurred too quickly (the neurotrophic factors in the stem cells do not work that fast) after the procedures. Others noted that his improvements did not correspond to the areas of his spinal cord that received the stem cells. Dr. Angela Genge of the Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital, expressed doubts according to a January Alzforum article, "suggesting that any benefit might have resulted from the immunosuppressant drugs the participants received, that is, their ability to quell neuroinflammatory pathology."

Dr. Genge had, so to speak, thrown a huge fly in Neuralstem's ointment, so much so that, in May of this year, Neuralstem CEO, Richard Garr was forced to make an interesting admission on his blog:
It is also possible that an “unknown unknown” is responsible for Ted’s long term improvement and the stabilization of the other patients. The argument here is that just because WE can’t figure out what else it might possibly be, doesn't mean there isn't another explanation. However unlikely we feel this could be, it is why large, well-controlled trials are always required and justified. We need to continue and enlarge our clinical trials to refute this argument.

Indeed, in July, Dr. Jonathan Glass and Dr. Christina Fournier of the Emory ALS Center announced plans for a new study in order to eliminate the possibility that Ted Harada might have been cured by the immunosuppressants (anti-rejection drugs) that he received as part of the stem cell procedures. But those of us who have followed ALS research over the years know that it's a useless trial because the outcome is already known: immunosuppressing drugs have already been shown to be ineffective against ALS. So why the study? In my opinion, it's really Mr. Garr's way of calming the fears of his company's investors. Garr plans to wrestle that straw man to the ground and declare victory. He'll be able to triumphantly announce at the next shareholders meeting, "You see, we told you it was our stem cells that cured Ted Harada."

If I were a Neuralstem investor, this is where I would raise my hand and ask, "Uh, are you really sure about that?" I mean, did not Ted Harada receive another powerful immune suppressing drug that has not been tested in this latest study? But of course, he did. Mr. Harada was anesthetized for 5 + hours during each procedure. In other words, he received a massive dose of anesthetics in order to keep him completely immobilized during the delicate operation. Most anesthetics have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Several ALS patients have asked Mr. Harada to reveal the type of anesthetic he received but he declined to do so. No matter. We can guess that it was probably sevoflurane, isoflurane or a similar volatile anesthetic. Why? Only because these are the anesthetics of choice used to keep a patient perfectly immobilized. So why did those in charge of the new study omit the anesthetics from the list of immunosuppressing drugs to be tested? I am asking because both Glass and Fournier were aware of reports that some ALS patients are seeing improvements after undergoing anesthesia. What's up with that? Inquiring shareholders and all that.

Something smells fishy at the Emory ALS Center in Atlanta, Georgia. One wonders what CEO Richard Garr has to say about all this.

Source: What Really Cured Ted Harada
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Re: What Really Cured Ted Harada?

Postby sixwings » Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:22 am

I just read an interesting research article that described a stem cell study on ALS SOD1 rats. Human stem cells were provided by Neuralstem and one of the researchers in the study is employed by Neuralstem. After spinal injections, the ALS rats showed improved motor functions. What I found interesting is that the animals were all anesthetized with isoflurane, a type of halogenated anesthetic very similar to sevoflurane. Click on the link below for the full article.

Human Neural Stem Cell Replacement Therapy for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis by Spinal Transplantation
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Re: What Really Cured Ted Harada?

Postby sixwings » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:42 am

Ted Harada tweeted that he did not experience a rapid recovery after his stem cell procedures. He claims his improvements "came in phases, same pattern as weakness". I guess I must have misread the trial announcement in the Emory ALS Center's newsletter. Here's an excerpt (emphasis added):
In a recent human stem cell transplantation study, one patient had improvement in his ALS symptoms shortly after receiving a stem cell transplant into his lower spinal cord. The improvements occurred quickly and in areas of the body that are in different regions of the body from where the stem cells were given. The time course and location of the improvement are not expected if the benefits were from the stem cells themselves. Additionally, several patients in the neural stem cell trial seem to have slow disease progression as compared to the expectation from current understanding of typical disease course. Each patient in the stem cell trial was also given medications to suppress the immune system, similar to the medications given to patients with organ transplants. It is possible that the improvements are because of the immune suppressing medications. The purpose of this trial is to test the same immune suppression medications to determine if other patients with ALS show improvements like the patient in the stem cell trial.

I do not mean to impugn the integrity of anyone but I am forced to ask, who is this "one patient" that the announcement is referring to if not Ted Harada? And what do the authors mean by "the improvements occurred quickly"? This would seem to contradict Mr. Harada's statement that his improvements "came in phases, same pattern as weakness" implying that it was a slow process.

Be that as it may, even if Mr. Harada's improvements occurred slowly as he seems to imply, would that falsify the hypothesis that the improvements were caused by the anesthetics he received during the procedure? Isn't it possible that a massive dose of anesthetics can result in a pronounced recovery over a long period of time as the body takes advantage of the induced absence of inflammation to rebuild itself?

I am not one to hold on to my erroneous views in the face of contrary evidence. If I am wrong about my hypothesis regarding Ted Harada and anesthetics, I will be more than happy to admit that it is falsified. This is how scientific hypotheses work. They are either contradicted or corroborated by experiments and factual reports. I just think that the anesthetics hypothesis should be investigated further whether or not they had a positive effect on Mr. Harada. Even the results from a study on a mouse or rat model of ALS would be beneficial.
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