Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stem Cell Treatment

Stem cell treatment gives hope to Crohn's disease sufferers

Sufferers from the debilitating bowel condition Crohn's disease may be cured using a groundbreaking stem cell treatment, according to the British doctor leading the research.

Initial findings from the world's first controlled trial of the procedure have raised hopes that it could banish the disease's symptoms for many years in up to half of the patients who undergo it.

The pioneering therapy involves "rebooting" the patient's immune system, by first destroying the cells that have attacked it to cause the Crohn's, and then replacing them.

Professor Chris Hawkey, a gastroenterologist at Nottingham University, is leading the Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation in Crohn's Disease (Astic) trial. So far, 15 patients from six European countries, including three Britons, have taken part, though others are being recruited.

"I'm hopeful that half or more of the patients who undergo stem cell transplantation may either be cured or have a long-term remission," said Hawkey.

Hawkey, other specialist doctors and patients involved in the trial will tomorrow meet the chancellor, Alastair Darling, to press for the NHS to offer better treatment across the UK to the estimated 60,000 people who have Crohn's and the 140,000 who suffer from colitis.

Crohn's is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulceration and inflammation of the digestive tract. Existing treatments all involve drugs, which help sufferers to control their symptoms, but do not offer a cure. It wrecks lives because its embarrassing and painful symptoms – including diarrhoea, stomach pains, fatigue and weight loss – can mean that those with the most severe form of Crohn's find it hard to go to school or college, hold down a job or plan a holiday.

The stem cell treatment, which takes two years, is very painful for patients, and involves risks including bleeding, infection and a 1%-2% chance of death. The stem cell transplantation is used to kill off the patient's old bone marrow, which produces the harmful cells that cause the Crohn's, and generate new cells.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Comfort Wipe

There are no words to describe this. I thought it was a joke at first, but no, I am assured that it is in fact legitimate. Enjoy.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Heather O'Rourke, star of Poltergeist films died from Crohn's Disease

I found this Article over at Tragic Stars

Four of the actors involved in the Poltergeist films died within six years of one another, which led to a persistent rumor of a "Poltergeist curse" plaguing those involved with the horror films. Dominique Dunne, the actress who played O'Rourke's big sister in the original film, was murdered in 1982 by John Thomas Sweeney, with whom she had recently broken up. In 1985, actor Julian Beck died of stomach cancer during the filming of Poltergeist II: The Other Side. Two years later, Native American actor Will Sampson, who also starred in Poltergeist II, died of kidney failure and malnutrition problems.

In 1987, Heather was diagnosed with Crohn's disease after she suffered flu-like symptoms and swelling of her feet and legs. Despite her health problems, she began work on the final Poltergeist film, in which she starred alongside Lara Flynn Boyle and Tom Skerritt. According to fellow cast members, she never complained of pain and did not appear sick.

During a brief hiatus from filming, Heather fell extremely ill, unable to keep food down. Her mother called an ambulance after Heather fainted. Heather insisted she was fine to the paramedics, apparently worried about missing school.

Tragically, Heather O'Rourke died on February 1, 1988, of cardiopulmonary arrest and intestinal stenosis while having an acute bowel obstruction removed. Her mother claimed that had O'Rourke been diagnosed correctly months before, she would have lived. The family's lawyer filed a wrongful death suit against Kaiser Permanente, which they claimed responsible for the Crohn's disease misdiagnosis. The lawsuit was settled out of court.