DAVID GRANOVSKY

Posts Tagged ‘retina’

Thomas Gray lived six days, but his life has lasting impact

In ALL ARTICLES, HOPE AND INSPIRATION on March 31, 2015 at 9:47 am

Thomas Gray lived six days, but his life has lasting impact

Sarah Gray reacts to research information about the donated retinas from her son, Thomas, who died at six days old in 2010. Callum, 5, Thomas´ identical twin brother, plays during the visit to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Sarah Gray reacts to research information about the donated retinas from her son, Thomas, who died at six days old in 2010. Callum, 5, Thomas’ identical twin brother, plays during the visit to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Sarah Gray reacts to research information about the donated retinas from her son, Thomas, who died at six days old in 2010. Callum, 5, Thomas´ identical twin brother, plays during the visit to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Gallery: Thomas Gray lived six days, but his life has lasting impact

Michael Vitez, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

When she found out early in her pregnancy that one of her identical twins would die at birth, Sarah Gray began a five-year journey that culminated last week in Philadelphia.

She had to carry the sick baby to term in order to protect his healthy twin. And she also looked into organ and tissue donation.

“Instead of thinking of our son as a victim,” she said, “I started thinking of him as a contributor to research, to science.”

On March 23, 2010, Thomas and Callum Gray were born at Fairfax Hospital in Virginia. Callum, perfect, was five pounds, 10 ounces. Thomas, four pounds, was born without part of his brain. His mother nursed him, diapered him, cradled him.

He died after six days – five years ago on Sunday. Within hours of Thomas’ death, his eyes and liver were recovered and sent – along with umbilical cord blood from him and his brother – to researchers.But that wasn’t the end of it for Sarah Gray.

She often wondered – what became of his eyes, his blood, his liver?

The Grays had received a thank-you letter from the Washington regional transplant organization, telling them their son’s corneas had been sent to the Schepens Eye Research Institute in Boston, and his liver and the cord blood to Duke University in North Carolina.

Two years later, on a business trip to Boston, Sarah Gray called the eye institute, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.

“I donated my son’s eyes to your lab,” she said on the phone. “Can I come by for a tour?”

The receptionist said she had never had such a request. “I’m not sure who to transfer you to,” she said, “but don’t hang up!”

The next day, Gray met James Zieske, the institute’s senior scientist, who told her “infant eyes are worth their weight in gold,” because, being so young, they have great regenerative properties. Thomas’ corneas were used in a study that could one day help cure corneal blindness.

Thirteen more studies had cited that study. Gray felt a new emotion: pride.

Before leaving, she bought a Harvard T-shirt for Callum, and decided she was going to go with the whole family to North Carolina, where Thomas’ liver and the cord blood had been sent.

Zieske also wrote her: “Your visit helped to remind me that all the eyes we receive are an incredibly generous gift from someone who loved and cared about the person who provided the eyes. I thank you for reminding me of this.”

A few months later in 2012, the Grays went to the Duke Center for Human Genetics in Durham, N.C., where even though the twins were identical, scientists found epigenetic differences in their cord blood, research that could one day help prevent Thomas’ fatal defect, anencephaly.

Sarah Gray bought Callum a Duke T-shirt.

The couple then drove down to the road to visit Cytonet, a biotech company that had used their baby’s liver in a trial to determine the best temperature to freeze liver tissue.

Already in the nonprofit public relations field, Sarah Gray became director of marketing for the American Association of Tissue Banks.

Her mantra has become donate, donate, donate, and not just for transplant, but also for research. Even if nobody asks you – doctors are often uncomfortable when a child is dying – bring it up yourself, she says.

At a conference last summer, by coincidence, Gray learned that the Old Dominion Eye Bank in North Chesterfield, Va., had shipped Thomas’ retinas to Philadelphia.

She couldn’t believe she’d never known this. She immediately wrote to the researcher at the University of Pennsylvania who used the donation in her efforts to cure retinoblastoma, the most common form of eye cancer in children.

Two days later, Gray got a reply from Arupa Ganguly, who runs the lab and is a genetics professor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

“It is almost impossible to obtain normal retina from a child,” Ganguly wrote. “The sample from Thomas is extremely precious for us.”

Ganguly sent Callum a Penn T-shirt.

They arranged to meet last Monday.

First, Sarah, Ross, and Callum Gray went to the National Disease Research Interchange in Center City, which Sarah Gray calls “the Match.com of science.” The interchange connects hospitals that supply organs and tissue with researchers who request it.

“This seems to have brought you a lot of peace and joy,” Bill Leinweber, the interchange’s president and CEO, told Sarah. “You’ve been such a strong advocate for research and such an eloquent spokesperson for the value of research.”

After a visit there, the Gray family went to Penn to meet Ganguly and tour her lab.

Sarah Gray saw the marbled composition book in which the receipt of retinas was logged on March 30, 2010, the 360th specimen to be received. They became “RES 360,” short for Research 360.

“Is this the log book?” she asked. “Oh, my gosh.”

Gray ran her index finger over the cursive of Jennifer Yutz, the lab manager who recorded the entry.

“Ross, look at this! Med 360!”

Her husband took a look. Callum, then 4, hugged an inflatable Godzilla as tall as he is, a gift from Ganguly, bouncing it on the lab floor.

“Wow,” Sarah Gray continued. “Can I Xerox this?”

“We have a copy for you,” Ganguly said.

Penn also gave the Grays a copy of the Fed Ex packing slip confirming arrival, which Sarah Gray said she would “treasure like a war medal.”

Thomas’ retina tissue is so rare, so precious, Ganguly and her team are still saving some of it for future research. Ganguly’s staff led Sarah Gray into the hallway, where a refrigerator, innocuous and ordinary, stood across from student lockers. Yutz unlocked it.

Inside were hundreds of 1.5 milliliter tubes – smaller than cigarette filters.

Yutz pointed to two.

“There it is,” Yutz said.

“Oh my gosh!” Gray said. She couldn’t touch them. The tubes were frozen at minus-80 degrees centigrade (minus-112 Fahrenheit).

“It’s the RNA isolated from the retina tissue,” Yutz said.

Call it what you will, that was a piece of Thomas Gray, her son.

Ross Gray has long supported his wife’s journey.

“It helped her get over the loss,” he said. “It was part of the healing process, seeing that there’s still research going on five years after. His life was worthwhile. He’s brought a lot of good to the world.”

“The way I see it,” Sarah Gray said, “our son got into Harvard, Duke, and Penn. He has a job. He is relevant to the world. I only hope my life can be as relevant.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20150329_Thomas_Gray_lived_six_days__but_his_life_has_lasting_impact.html#ASIBfjvkMHBMos7Y.99

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A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES

In ALL ARTICLES, SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on June 28, 2014 at 1:45 pm

20140628-143215-52335093.jpg
A Sight for Sore Eyes
Author: Sarah Hoffman

“Researchers have grown part of an eye in a lab dish, using a type of stem cell made from a piece of skin.

They said the little retina started growing and developing on its own — an important step towards creating custom-tailored organs in the lab.”

Earlier this month scientists successfully created a functioning human retina using iPSCs (induced pluripotent stem cells). But that’s not the cool part. What’s actually amazing is that they did very little to make this happen.

Wait what?! Ok let me explain. These researchers took some of these cells from a tiny little piece of human skin, basically rewound time as far as these cells are concerned and pushed them back to a more-or-less embryonic state, sent signals to some genes manipulating them to form a retina, and then let it do it’s thing. And it was a success! This little retina is living in a dish just sensing light and being a badass little organ. Even the scientists didn’t realize this would happen so naturally

NEW STEM CELL TREATMENT STUDY FOCUSES ON PREVENTING SIGHT LOSS FROM DIABETICS

In SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on February 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

eye

Currently millions of diabetics worldwide are at risk of sight loss due to a condition called Diabetic Retinopathy. This is when high blood sugar causes the blood vessels in the eye to become blocked or to leak. Failed blood flow harms the retina and leads to vision impairment and if left untreated can lead to blindness.  Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast are hoping to develop a novel approach that could save the sight of millions of diabetes sufferers using adult stem cells.

The novel REDDSTAR study (Repair of Diabetic Damage by Stromal Cell Administration) involving researchers from Queen’s Centre for Vision and Vascular Science, will see them isolating stem cells from donors, expanding them in a laboratory setting and re-delivering them to a patient where they help to repair the blood vessels in the eye. This is especially relevant to patients with diabetes were the vessels of the retina become damaged.

At present there are very few treatments available to control the progression of diabetic complications. There are no treatments which will improve glucose levels and simultaneously treat the diabetic complication.  The research is being carried out with NUI Galway and brings together experts from Northern Ireland, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal and the US.

Professor Alan Stitt, Director of the Centre for Vision and Vascular Science in Queen’s and lead scientist for the project said: “The Queen’s component of the REDDSTAR study involves investigating the potential of a unique stem cell population to promote repair of damaged blood vessels in the retina during diabetes. The impact could be profound for patients, because regeneration of damaged retina could prevent progression of diabetic retinopathy and reduce the risk of vision loss.

“Currently available treatments for diabetic retinopathy are not always satisfactory. They focus on end-stages of the disease, carry many side effects and fail to address the root causes of the condition. A novel, alternative therapeutic approach is to harness adult stem cells to promote regeneration of the damaged retinal blood vessels and thereby prevent and/or reverse retinopathy.”

“This new research project is one of several regenerative medicine approaches ongoing in the centre. The approach is quite simple: we plan to isolate a very defined population of stem cells and then deliver them to sites in the body that have been damaged by diabetes. In the case of some patients with diabetes, they may gain enormous benefit from stem cell-mediated repair of damaged blood vessels in their retina. This is the first step towards an exciting new therapy in an area where it is desperately needed.”

The project will develop ways to grow the bone-marrow-derived stem cells. They will be tested in several preclinical models of diabetic complications at centres in Belfast, Galway, Munich, Berlin and Porto before human trials take place in Denmark.

http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentreforVisionandVascularScience/

Shiu Sisters – CP and ROP Adult Stem Cell Patients

In ALL ARTICLES on July 12, 2010 at 11:27 am

Shiu Sisters – Cerebral Palsy and ROP – Adult Stem Cell Treatment

Tuesday, 29 June 2010 11:34

Sisters from Hong Kong, both Celia and Angelica have CP. Angelica also has ROP–a common retinal problem common in premature births. They received adult stem cell therapy together.

Celia: 2 years old, Cerebral Palsy

Angelic: 4 years old, Cerebral Palsy and Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP)

Condition Before Treatment

Angelica was born prematurely, and as a result suffered a brain injury which lead to Cerebral Palsy and ROP. Her mother, Eileen describes her condition, “we have found that her speech is quite delayed and so is her interaction with other people. Her vision is pretty bad because she has ROP”

Her sister, unfortunately, was also diagnosed with CP at the age of one and a half. Her mother describes her symptoms, “the major problem with Celia is related to motor problems, her gross motor skills are lacking and there is some delay with her fine motor skills… She could not walk before she came here, and her balance was very poor so her alignment was off when standing, so she had very poor posture.”

Though both girls were receiving conventional therapy in Hong Kong and doing well, their parents were afraid that they were not reaching the proper developmental milestones. After careful research, they decided that stem cell therapy would help their daughters meet their goals.

Treatment

Both Sisters received 6 umbilical cord blood stem cell injections along with physical therapy, occupational therapy, electric wave therapy, and acupuncture.

Condition After Treatment

After receiving stem cell treatment, both sisters started experiencing changes in their condition.

Celia, in particular, saw dramatic improvement in her strength and mobility. Her mom explains, “After the second treatment, she got more power. She was willing to stand more and she asked me to help her to stand up and she wants to walk. And she can. She is starting to walk! I am very happy to see this result. She stands and walks, I think, around 4 hours a day. And before she came here she could not stand for so long. Probably a half hour a day is all she could do.”

Eileen also saw improvements in Angelica’s behavior and vision,
“Well she has more interaction with people and I think there is some improvement in her vision, because when I take pictures of her and I tell her to look at the camera she really is able to look at the camera. So I am pleased to see this result too.

“When I talk to her and ask her to do something, it seems like she really hears it and she does what I tell her. She is actually listening. So I am pleased to see her behaviors change. I think it helps my elder daughter catch up in her development.”

New insights on eye stem cells

In STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on August 31, 2009 at 11:44 am

New insights on eye stem cells

Retinal stem cell - Wallace group

Retinal stem cell – Wallace group Retinal stem cells have now been created from human skin, adding yet another specialized cell type to a rapidly growing list of cells that can be created using induced pluripotent (iPS) methodology. The finding could prove to be an important method in the production of human retinal cells, which would help overcome one of the greatest obstacles to successful stem cell therapies to treat eye conditions. The announcement was made on Monday by a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

via Stem Cell Network Blog: New insights on eye stem cells.

Retina Cells Created From Skin-derived Stem Cells

In VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on August 26, 2009 at 1:58 pm

A team of scientists led by David Gamm, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences, and Jason Meyer, research scientist, has successfully grown multiple types of retina cells from two types of stem cells — suggesting a future in which damaged retinas could be repaired by cells grown from the patient’s own skin. Pictured here in a microscopic photograph are early retinal cells (green) and early brain cells (blue). (Credit: Courtesy David Gamm)

Retina Cells Created From Skin-derived Stem Cells

ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2009) — A team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health has successfully grown multiple types of retina cells from two types of stem cells — suggesting a future in which damaged retinas could be repaired by cells grown from the patient’s own skin.

via Retina Cells Created From Skin-derived Stem Cells.

University of Louisville researchers make stem-cell discovery – Business First of Louisville:

In ALL ARTICLES, VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on May 22, 2009 at 6:48 pm
stem cell retina eye treat heal optic

stem cell retina eye treat heal optic

Thursday, May 21, 2009, 10:34am EDT

University of Louisville researchers make stem-cell discovery

Researchers at the University of Louisville have discovered that stem cells extracted from bone marrow can restore damaged retinal tissue by generating new cells.

The findings are an important step toward helping people who experience vision loss and blindness as a result of age-related macular degeneration and hereditary retinal degeneration, the university said in a news release.

Researchers found that stem cells removed from bone marrow were attracted to damaged retinal pigment epithelium, the pigmented cell layer just outside the retina.

via University of Louisville researchers make stem-cell discovery – Business First of Louisville:.

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