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Category Archives: Oklahoma Stem Cells

New treatment options for sickle cell disease bring hope to families and supporter – The Black Wall Street Times

Posted: February 5, 2021 at 9:50 pm

Reading Time 2 mins 47 secs

More than a year after starting a pandemic that incomparably ravaged communities of color, the predominantly African-American patients of sickle cell disease see a ray of hope with the release of another new treatment.

A new gene-editing therapy called CRISPR has been shown to eliminate all symptoms in at least one study among a small list of FDA-approved treatments for the rare and chronic disease.

The one-time treatment works by altering the DNA in the blood cells and reprogramming the body to stop producing the sickle-shaped cells that obstruct oxygen flow and cause extreme pain or severe fatigue to young and old patients. The body instead goes back to making the type of healthy blood cells produced in the womb.

It works by removing stem cells from the patients body and using CRISPR technology to alter the gene before putting them back in the body.

For Velvet Brown-Watts, more options mean more hope for the community of families affected by sickle cell disease and other related anemias. But she also acknowledged that the science behind the new curative treatment would be a tough sell for some black folks.

I dont ever tell people what to try or what not to try. We tell them to make sure youre getting all the information, Brown-Watts said. Shes the Executive Director of Supporters of Families with Sickle Cell Disease, an Oklahoma support group based in Tulsa. She also has a son who lives with the disease.

Would the person still have the DNA of their family down the line? If my son did that, would he still be carrying the same bloodline, Brown-Watts said, listing questions community members have asked her about the new CRISPR treatment.

Brown-Watts said its exciting whenever theres a new treatment but that some in the black community, mostly faith leaders, may see the gene-editing therapy as playing God.

Im excited about all the new different therapies coming down the pipeline because now it does give patients living with sickle cell options, Brown-Watts said.

Twenty years ago, it was a different story. Throughout the 80s and 90s the only FDA-approved treatment for sickle cell disease, which affects roughly 100,000 Americans and 1 in every 365 African American births, was a repurposed cancer drug called Hydroxyurea.

When you look at diabetes and cancer, they had how many options, Brown-Watts said. And at the time, sickle cell only had one. And it wasnt even a drug for sickle cell.

Brown Watts said she feels that since sickle cell primarily affects African Americans, the FDA, historically, hasnt spent much time investing in research or treatments toward it.

That has changed in recent years as more treatments have been approved and continue to be studied.

Theres now Envari, a powder, and Adakzeo, an infusion drug.

Theres also Oxbryta, a pill that Brown-Watts said has been working for her 16-year-old son, Jeremiah Jr.

Its been a rollercoaster, Brown-Watts said. For our family, the diagnosis changed the core of who we became. You learn to create a synergy for your family so you can build with the tools you have. For us, it was helping him learn how it impacted his body and what it is, what it does, and how he has to learn how to manage.

Thanks to Oxbryta, Brown-Watts has noticed her son has more energy and better oxygen flow, though he still requires oxygen support.

At a time when the Center for Disease Control estimates that 7 percent of black sickle patients with Covid-19 have died compared to less than 1 percent of the general population, emotional and financial support means everything.

The recent study of the gene-editing therapy, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that months after the treatment, patients who had sickle cell disease remain pain-free and without a need for blood transfusions.

And as more treatments become available, Brown-Watts hopes the community will stand up to address these racial health disparities.

Its almost like when youve been living on an island all alone, and all you had was coconuts coconuts coconuts, and somebody else comes along, and maybe they bring an orange. And you get really excited because now you have options, Brown-Watts said.


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Covid-19 news: New restrictions introduced in the UK and across Europe – Trading U

Posted: October 18, 2020 at 1:55 am

By Michael Le Page, Clare Wilson, Jessica Hamzelou, Adam Vaughan, Conrad Quilty-Harperand Layal Liverpool

A worker covers a pool table at Cafe Louvre ahead of the introduction of new coronavirus restrictions in Prague, Czech Republic

Milan Jaros/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tighter restrictions introduced in the UK and across Europe to tackle rising infections

A new three-tier system of restrictions came into force in England today, and Northern Ireland announced that schools there will be closed for two weeks from 19 October, as the UK attempts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Other European countries are also introducing tighter restrictions in response to sharp rises in cases. The Netherlands yesterday announced a partial nationwide lockdown, which will come into force at 10 pm today. The country recorded almost 7400 cases in 24 hours yesterday in a record daily rise, and currently has a case rate of 412.2 per 100,000 people, according to the latest figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The equivalent figure for the UK is currently 283.2 cases per 100,000 people. Under the new rules in the Netherlands, bars, restaurants and cafes will be required to close for four weeks and the sale of alcohol will be banned after 8pm each evening. The Czech Republic, which currently has the highest infection rate in Europe at 581.3 cases per 100,000 people, started a three-week partial lockdown yesterday. Schools, university accommodation, bars and clubs were all told to close. New restrictions are also expected to be announced in Spain and France, where infection rates are currently 293.8 and 307.1 cases per 100,000 people, respectively.

In England, Labour leader Keir Starmer has called for tougher measures, specifically the implementation of a two-week circuit breaker lockdown to try and bring cases under control. At a press conference yesterday, Starmer suggested that schools could stay open but that all pubs and restaurants should close for two weeks, with only essential work and travel allowed. Starmers proposal echoes recommendations made by government scientific advisers more than three weeks ago, which included the implementation of a two-week lockdown, banning of contact between people from different households, closing pubs, restaurants and other venues, and moving all university and college teaching online.

Other coronavirus news

Advice for people in England who are extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus those who have conditions affecting their immune systems, some people with cancer and organ transplant recipients will now be tailored according to the alert level in the area where they live. These 2.2 million people will be advised to take precautions and practice social distancing as cases rise, but most will not be advised to stay at home as they were during the first wave of the virus in spring, the government announced yesterday. The exception to this will include some people in tier three areas, where infection rates are highest. Patient groups, including Blood Cancer UK and Kidney Care UK, criticised the new advice for being insufficient to support those most at risk.

The World Bank has approved $12 billion (9 billion) of funding for buying and distributing coronavirus tests, treatments and any future vaccines in developing countries.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide death toll has passed 1.08 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 38.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.

Bad science: It is bad science to say covid-19 infections will create herd immunity, writes Graham Lawton.

Excess deaths: England, Wales and Spain suffered the biggest increases in deaths by all causes during the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic, while countries including New Zealand, Norway and Poland appear to have escaped relatively unscathed.

Coronavirus and climate: Global warming has become a forgotten crisis during the coronavirus pandemic. But a year that has set worrying climate records also shows how we can remake the world for the better.

Everything you need to know about the pandemic

What is covid-19?

What are the worst symptoms and how deadly is covid-19?

You could be spreading the coronavirus without realising youve got it

Which covid-19 treatments work and how close are we to getting more?

What are the main coronavirus vaccine candidates?

Race Against the Virus: Hunt for a Vaccine is a Channel 4 documentary which tells the story of the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of the scientists on the frontline.

The New York Times is assessing the progress of different vaccine candidates and potential drug treatments for covid-19, and ranking them for effectiveness and safety.

Humans of COVID-19 is a project highlighting the experiences of key workers on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus in the UK, through social media.

Coronavirus, Explained on Netflix is a short documentary series examining the on-going coronavirus pandemic, the efforts to fight it and ways to manage its mental health toll.

New Scientist Weekly features updates and analysis on the latest developments in the covid-19 pandemic. Our podcast sees expert journalists from the magazine discuss the biggest science stories to hit the headlines each week from technology and space, to health and the environment.

COVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened, and How to Stop the Next One by Debora Mackenzie is about how the pandemic happened and why it will happen again if we dont do things differently in future.

The Rules of Contagion is about the new science of contagion and the surprising ways it shapes our lives and behaviour. The author, Adam Kucharski, is an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, and in the book he examines how diseases spread and why they stop.

A man uses a misting and fogging machine to clean and disinfect the Grand Central venue in Liverpool, UK

Danny Lawson/PA Images

UK scientific advisors recommended a short lockdown in England three weeks ago

The UKs Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) warned ministers three weeks ago that a failure to implement tighter coronavirus restrictions in England would have catastrophic consequences. Documents from SAGE dated 21 September, which were released yesterday, included a recommendation that the government impose a two-week circuit-breaker lockdown to curb the spread of infections. The advisory group cautioned that not acting now to reduce cases will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences in terms of direct COVID related deaths and the ability of the health service to meet needs. Other recommendations from the group, which were not implemented by the government at the time, included banning all contact between people from different households, closing all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms and personal services such as hairdressers, and moving all university and college teaching online unless absolutely essential.

At a press conference yesterday, Englands chief medical officer Chris Whitty said he was not confident that new measures, namely a three-tier alert level system announced by UK prime minister Boris Johnson, would be enough to get on top of the coronavirus. Whitty said local authorities in areas put on very high alert would likely have to introduce further restrictions.

Other coronavirus news

A man in the US has become the fifth person recorded to have caught the coronavirus twice, following similar cases in Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ecuador. The 25-year old first tested positive for the virus on 18 April after experiencing several weeks of symptoms but then recovered and tested negative for the virus on both 9 and 26 May, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. However, a few days after testing negative for the second time, he developed more severe symptoms, eventually requiring hospitalisation, and he tested positive for the virus again on 5 June. The man has since recovered. Although cases of coronavirus reinfection with severe illness do not appear to be common, these findings reinforce the point that we still do not know enough about the immune response to this infection, said Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia, UK, in a statement. Understanding immune responses to the virus and how long any immunity might last is important for vaccine development.

Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson has voluntarily paused clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate because of an unexplained illness in a study participant. This is standard procedure in vaccine development, and allows time for researchers to determine the cause of the illness and ensure the safety of participants in the trial. In September, trials of a coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford were also paused, after a participant fell ill in the UK. Trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate have since resumed in the UK, Brazil, South Africa and India, but the US trial is still on hold, pending a regulatory review. Both the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine candidates are based on adenoviral vectors modified viruses that can instruct cells to produce coronavirus proteins.

Senior US government health advisor Anthony Fauci has criticised US president Donald Trumps decision to resume campaign rallies without adequate social distancing. The president returned to the campaign trail yesterday to attend a rally in Florida less than two weeks after he tested positive for the coronavirus. That is asking for trouble, Fauci told CNN in an interview. He cited rising virus positivity rates in a number of US states, adding: now is even more so a worse time to do that, because when you look at whats going on in the United States, its really very troublesome.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide death toll has passed 1.08 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 37.8 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.

Can vitamin D help beat coronavirus?: In this weeks Science with Sam, we take a look at the evidence for the health benefits of sunlight, its importance for your mood and some simple tips to maximise your exposure.

A television shows Britains Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking in the House of Commons in London, as customers sit at tables inside the Richmond Pub in Liverpool, UK

PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Restrictions tighten in parts of England as new three-tier system introduced

UK prime minister Boris Johnson today announced a new three-tier system for setting coronavirus rules in England, due to come into force on Wednesday subject to a debate and vote in parliament tomorrow. Under the new system, different sets of restrictions of increasing severity will apply to different regions. They will be classified as being on medium, high or very high alert based on their case rates per 100,000 people as well as the rate at which infections are rising. The Liverpool city region, which recorded 600 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending 6 October will face the tightest restrictions, classified as tier three. This will mean that those living in Liverpool and surrounding areas will not be allowed to meet people from different households indoors, while gyms and pubs will be required to shut until the measures are reviewed in a month, Johnson told parliament.

Most areas that already have some form of additional restrictions will be classed as high alert level and put under tier two restrictions, meaning that people will not be allowed to mix with those from other households indoors. Nottinghamshire and east and west Cheshire will also be put under tier two rules, said Johnson. The medium alert level will cover most of England and will feature tier one restrictions, including the rule of six and the 10 pm closing time for pubs. Johnson said the goal of the three-tier system was to simplify and standardise local rules.

This is not how we want to live our lives, he said. But is the narrow path we have to tread between social and economic costs of a full lockdown and the massive human and indeed economic cost of an uncontained epidemic, he added. We cannot let the NHS fall over when lives are at stake.

The introduction of a three-tier system does provide greater clarity on what will happen in parts of England to try and address the current rise in covid-19 cases, said Linda Bauld at the University of Edinburgh in a statement. Bauld said the new guidelines are in line with recent evidence linking infections to contact between different households and visits to hospitality venues.

Johnson also outlined financial support measures for people affected by the new measures, including the covering of wages for employees of businesses forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions as well as funding for improved contact tracing for areas on very high alert.

Other coronavirus news

The coronavirus may remain infectious for up to 28 days on surfaces such as mobile phone screens, according to a study by researchers at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness published in Virology Journal. The researchers studied coronavirus particles on several common surface types across a range of temperatures, in complete darkness. They found that the virus had a half-life of between 1.7 and 2.7 days at 20C and that viable virus particles could be isolated for up to 28 days on smooth surfaces such as mobile phone screen glass as well as banknotes made of paper and plastic. However, this is probably an overestimate because outside of these laboratory conditions, factors such as exposure to ultraviolet light could increase the chance of virus particles being destroyed.

More people in England are in hospital with covid-19 than before the UK first went into lockdown in March, NHS medical director Stephen Powis told a Downing Street press conference today. If we do not take measures to control the spread of the virus, the death toll will be too great to bear, said Powis. All hospital staff in high risk areas will now be tested for the virus regularly irrespective of symptoms, he added, and Nightingale Hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate have already been asked to prepare for increased numbers of patients in the coming months.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide death toll has passed 1.07 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 37.60 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.

A woman wearing a face covering walks past a public information poster in Hackney, north London

Dinendra Haria/LNP/Shutterstock

Community infections continue to rise in England, swab testing survey finds

Coronavirus infections in communities in England are continuing to rise, according to the latest results from Imperial College Londons REACT-1 study. Using random swab testing, researchers monitored coronavirus levels and found that about one in 170 people had the virus between 18 September and 5 October, an increase from one in 769 between 22 August and 7 September. The most recent results are based on an analysis of swabs from 175,000 people.

The UKs R number the number of people each coronavirus case infects has gone down slightly for the first time in the last five weeks, from between 1.3 and 1.6 the previous week to between 1.2 and 1.5 in the most recent week, according to official figures. This is most likely to represent the situation two or three weeks ago due to a time lag in the data used to model the R. An R number above 1.0 indicates infections are rising.

While the R value remains above 1.0, infections will continue to grow at an exponential rate, Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said in documents published on Friday. This is currently the case for every region in England and all have positive growth rates, reflecting increases in the number of new infections across the country.

Other coronavirus news

There was a record 24-hour increase in global new coronavirus cases on Thursday, with 338,779 cases confirmed around the world according to the World Health Organization. The spike was largely driven by a surge of infections in European countries, including the UK, which on Thursday reported a record daily increase of more than 17,000 new cases. On Friday, the UK reported 13,864 daily new cases. Some hospitals in the north of England will run out of beds within a week, health officials said on Thursday. Cases are also continuing to rise in Spain, France, Italy and Germany. Spains government on Friday declared a state of emergency for 15 days to deal with surging coronavirus cases in Madrid. Almost 25 per cent of intensive care unit beds in France are occupied by covid-19 patients, with the figure rising to 40 per cent in Paris and surrounding areas. France recorded more than 18,000 new cases on Thursday. Daily new cases in Italy jumped from more than 4000 on Thursday to more than 5000 on Friday, with hotspots in the south of the country. On Friday, Germany reported more than 4000 daily new cases for the second consecutive day, with Berlin emerging as one of the hotspots in the countrys second wave.

US president Donald Trump is planning a political rally in Florida this Saturday and may hold a separate rally in Pennsylvania on Sunday night. The White House has not released any information about whether or not he still has coronavirus, or whether he has been tested at all since he tested positive for the virus on 2 October. In June, a rally held by the president in Tulsa, Oklahoma was linked to a spike in coronavirus cases by a local health official.

The Washington, DC Department of Health appealed to all White House staff and anyone who attended an event in the Rose Garden on 26 September to get tested for the coronavirus and seek medical advice, in an open letter released yesterday. The letter says the appeal was prompted by the limited contact tracing performed to date in the White House, adding there may be other staff and residents at risk for exposure to COVID positive individuals.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide death toll has passed 1.06 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 36.62 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.

CRISPR and covid-19: CRISPR gene editing is already treating disease. But theres far more it might do, from fighting cancer and covid-19 to putting the brakes on climate change, says Feng Zhang, a pioneer of the technique.

Health workers speak with a woman before conducting a test for the coronavirus in Stoke-on-Trent, UK

REUTERS/Carl Recine

Daily coronavirus cases rise to 17,540, up 3300 from the previous day

The UK has recorded 17,540 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, an increase of 3300 from yesterday. Deaths also rose slightly, with 77 deaths recorded within 28 days of a positive test, up from the 70 reported on Wednesday. The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals in England has also risen slightly to 3044, up from 2944 yesterday.

Other coronavirus news

Englands contact tracing system only reached 68.6 per cent of those who tested positive for coronavirus, the lowest proportion yet since the system launched in May. The figure is down from 72.5 per cent the previous week. It is also below the target of 80 per cent or more recommended by government scientific advisors to limit infections from spreading. In total, 51,475 people tested positive for the coronavirus in England in the week ending 30 September, a 56 per cent increase compared to the previous week.

In England and Wales, covid-19 was the underlying cause of death in more than three times as many people as influenza and pneumonia combined during 2020, according to analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The substantially greater number of deaths attributed to covid-19 does tell us that at the moment, covid-19 is a greater risk to people than influenza, Rowland Kao at the University of Edinburgh said in a statement. Kao said this is unsurprising as we have a vaccine against flu but not against covid-19, and because the coronavirus is new to us, whereas some people may have acquired immunity to seasonal flu. The ONS analysis included data between January and August this year.

Coronavirus restrictions in parts of England could be tightened further early next week, with possible closures of pubs and restaurants in the worst-affected areas, according to the BBC. These areas may also see bans on overnight stays away from home. An official government announcement is expected on Monday.

US president Donald Trump today said he would not participate in a virtual presidential debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden. The debate format was changed because of safety concerns after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. Im not going to do a virtual debate, Trump said during an interview with the Fox Business Network. Thats not what debating is all about.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide death toll has passed 1.05 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 36.2 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.

Socially distant future: Coronavirus has put a rocket under plans for more automation, roboticisation and use of AI. Should we fear for our jobs or will we just get better ones?

A restaurant employee removes chairs on a terrace in Brussels


New rules introduced in Belgium, France and Germany amid rising cases

Belgium, France and Germany are among European countries that have introduced new restrictions to try and stem surging coronavirus cases. In Belgium, all bars, cafes and event halls will be required to close completely for at least a month, starting at 7 am on Thursday. One in seven people in Brussels are testing positive for the virus, according to officials. In Paris and its surrounding inner suburbs, more than 40 per cent of hospital beds are currently occupied by covid-19 patients, according to the regional health agency. It warned that the proportion could rise to 50 per cent within two weeks without intervention. Bars, gyms and swimming pools in Paris were closed completely on Tuesday for at least two weeks. On Saturday, new rules and curfews will come into force in Germanys capital Berlin, where authorities have recorded 44.2 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days. Bars, restaurants and off-licenses in the city will be required to shut between 11 pm and 6 am. Restrictions have been introduced limiting the number of people allowed at private and public gatherings.

In Scotland, which recorded 1054 new coronavirus cases today, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced new restrictions on serving alcohol, which come into force at 6 pm on Friday. Bars, pubs and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol indoors for 16 days. Sturgeon described the new measures as a short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection.

Other coronavirus news

Diagnostic tests in the UK could be delayed due to a supply chain failure affecting Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche, which supplies diagnostic testing equipment and materials to the NHS. Roche said that issues, which are related to a move to a new warehouse, had resulted in a significant drop in its processing capacity, adding that it is prioritising the dispatch of covid-19 diagnostic and antibody tests. However, there are concerns that this strategy could delay other tests, such as those for kidney, liver and thyroid function, as well as for sepsis and other infections. Tom Lewis, a doctor at North Devon District Hospital, told the BBC his hospitals trust had already asked staff to stop all non-urgent blood tests in the community. The problem could take up to two weeks to resolve, a Roche spokesperson told the BBC.

US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said the next presidential debate on 15 October should not take place if US president Donald Trump still has covid-19. Biden told journalists that the debate, scheduled to take place in Miami, should only be staged in accordance with strict health guidelines, adding if (Trump) still has covid, we shouldnt have a debate.

Coronavirus deaths

The worldwide death toll has passed 1.05 million. The number of confirmed cases is more than 35.9 million, according to Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases will be much higher.

Covid-19 symptoms: As the list of covid-19 symptoms recognised by health authorities evolves, we are starting to learn that people seem to fall into one of several symptom clusters, and that we might be missing the most important signs of the disease in children.

Doctors diary: Inadequate coronavirus testing and uncertainty over the success and supply of flu vaccines will leave doctors in England poorly prepared to cope this winter.

Shoppers pass beneath an electronic sign reminding pedestrians to act now to avoid a local lockdown in Manchester, UK

PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

UK sees 14,452 cases in a single day, as covid-19 deaths rise for third week in a row

Today, the UK recorded 14,542 daily new coronavirus cases, almost 2000 more than on Monday. This is a record number of new daily cases, with the exception of last Sunday when the number was artificially raised to 22,961 to compensate for thousands of cases that were missed between 25 September and 2 October due to a technical mistake. The number of deaths mentioning covid-19 on the death certificate has risen in the UK for the third consecutive week, according to the Office for National Statistics. There were 234 deaths involving the coronavirus registered in the week ending 25 September, up from 158 from the week before.

Other coronavirus news

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Innovative treatments that harnesses bodys own immune cells to fight cancer now offered at Jimmy Everest Center – KFOR Oklahoma City

Posted: June 30, 2020 at 10:49 am

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) An innovative treatment that is harnessing the bodys own immune cells to fight cancer is now being offered at the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Children for young people diagnosed with a type of leukemia.

The Jimmy Everest Center, a clinic within OU Childrens Physicians, treats many young people with leukemia.

In the pediatric population, the treatment CAR-T is specifically for young people up to age 25 who have precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), an aggressive form of blood cancer. To receive CAR-T, their cancer must have returned or become resistant to treatment.

CAR-T is a process in which the patients own cells are redirected to attack the leukemia cells, said David Crawford, M.D., Ph.D., who sees patients in the Jimmy Everest Center. This is a great opportunity because our patients can now be treated with CAR-T at home instead of us sending them to other institutions for the treatment.

CAR-T stands for Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy. Patients being treated with CAR-T first have their blood collected in a process similar to a typical blood donation. White blood cells (which include T cells) are filtered out, and the plasma and red cells are returned to the patient. The cells are then sent to a company that inserts the gene for a chimeric antigen receptor into the T cells, which binds to cancer cells and activates the T cells.

This process allows the newly engineered T cells to recognize and attack cancer with remarkable efficiency. Once the CAR-T cells are generated, they are shipped back to the Jimmy Everest Center and given to the patient through an IV, much like a blood transfusion.

Precursor B-cell ALL is the most common childhood malignancy affecting kids from childhood through young adulthood, peaking in diagnoses between ages 3 and 6. Many are cured with chemotherapy and other treatments, but some are not.

Children who relapse are in the greatest danger, Crawford said. For patients who relapse after a stem cell transplant, for example, we previously didnt have any more options. CAR-T is really a game-changer for them.

Unlike other types of cancer therapies, CAR-T therapy is a one-time treatment. The T cells remain in the body, prepared to attack the cancer at any time. The therapy carries a risk of complications, such as cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicity, but patients are closely monitored and seen daily by their physician, Crawford said.

CAR-T is also being offered at Stephenson Cancer Center for adults diagnosed with advanced lymphomas who are not responding to other treatments. Clinical trials are underway to determine if CAR-T can be used to treat other types of cancer in both adults and children.

For Crawford, it is gratifying to offer his patients and families new hope through CAR-T. Even when his young patients respond well to standard treatment, their quality of life is significantly affected. For those who dont, CAR-T can be a lifesaver.

I wanted to be in a field of medicine where I thought what I was doing made a big difference, and no place can you feel more like that when the patient faces a certainty of dying without the treatment you give them, he said. CAR-T is a breakthrough for our patients.

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Head of FDA urged to ensure any COVID vaccine be free of abortion connection – Crux: Covering all things Catholic

Posted: April 24, 2020 at 7:42 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. The chairmen of four U.S. bishops committees, joined by the leaders of several health care, bioethics and pro-life organizations, urgently and respectfully implored the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure any vaccines developed for the coronavirus are free from any connection to abortion.

To be clear, we strongly support efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible, the leaders said in an April 17 letter to Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, the FDA commissioner.

However, we also strongly urge our federal government to ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited, they said.

Copies of the letter were sent to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Humans Services Secretary Alex M. Azar. The text of the letter was released late April 17 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The chairman who signed it and their respective USCCB committees were: Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Domestic Justice and Human Development; Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop John F. Doerfler of Marquette, Michigan, the Subcommittee on Health Care Issues, which is a subcommittee of the doctrine committee.

Other signatories were the heads of 20 organizations such as the Catholic Medical Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Association of Catholic Nurses, Southern Baptist Ethics &Religious Liberty Commission, Children of God for Life, March for Life Education & Defense Fund, Family Research Council and Students for Life of America.

We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies, they said.

They noted that, for example, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has a substantial contract from HHS and is working on a vaccine that is being produced using one of these ethically problematic cell lines.

Other vaccines such as those being developed by Sanofi Pasteur, Inovio and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute utilize cell lines not connected to unethical procedures and methods.

It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: No American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience, the group said.

Fortunately, there is no need to use ethically problematic cell lines to produce a COVID vaccine, or any vaccine, as other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available and are regularly being used to produce other vaccines, they said.

The group told Hahn: We urgently and respectfully implore you to not only ensure that Americans will have access to a COVID vaccine that is free of ethical concerns, but to encourage and incentivize pharmaceutical companies to use only ethical cell lines or processes for producing vaccines.

On April 6, a group of about a dozen Democrats in Congress sent a letter to Azar urging the Trump administration to lift restrictions on research that uses human fetal tissue for potential treatment for COVID-19. They argued that allowing fetal tissue in such studies could lead more quickly to a treatment.

On June 5, 2019, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services banned the National Institutes of Health from using human fetal stem cells from electively aborted babies for government funded research. The department also issued a $20 million grant for research to develop models that do not rely on human fetal tissue.

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Stem Cell Treatments | Stem Cell Therapies of Oklahoma …

Posted: April 14, 2020 at 2:45 am

Here at Stem Cell Therapies of Oklahoma, were firmly committed to the belief that regenerative therapy is highly beneficial. Were convinced its the answer to many soft tissue and orthopedic issues experienced by patients today. This is why weve created our cutting-edge practice to help those in pain to find relief. By adopting the latest advances in medicine, were here to help patients live their lives to the fullest.

Around 100 million people in the United States today suffer from a chronic pain condition. Sadly, many cannot find the relief they seek, even when they undergo invasive surgery. The reason for this is that treatments available today dont address the cause of the pain. This may be down to damage or dysfunction because of overuse, aging, traumatic injury or a congenital condition. Whatever the cause, traditional treatments cannot resolve it.

How Does Stem Cell Medicine Work?

The discipline of regenerative medicine covers many methods and procedures. Recently, there have been many impressive advances in the field of stem cell research. We use regenerative treatments that focus on the use of stem cells. These help the body to heal from the inside. A stem cell injection allows your body to use the cells to counteract the inflammation that damages tissues.

Regenerative medicine uses stem cells as its key component, and we have found our patients are impressed by the results. From ligament injuries and joint pain to neuropathy and autoimmune conditions, stem cell treatment could be the answer.

Who Can Benefit from Regenerative Medicine?

Stem cells and natural healing can improve the quality of life for many of our patients. However, not everyone can benefit. Every individual has his or her own healing response, and we cannot guarantee anything in the field of medicine. We will always evaluate your goals and health carefully to ensure you have the best chance of a successful outcome.

If youre keen to dramatically reduce or even eliminate your pain with no need for surgery, regenerative medicine may help. Our treatments require no downtime and there are no side effects. Our treatments also wont mask the symptoms of your condition. Instead, the stem cells will help to heal you from within so you can achieve a full recovery whenever possible. If you want to get back to a normal daily life with no pain or reduced mobility, we can help.

Contact Stem Cell Therapies of Oklahoma Today

If youre ready to find out more about our regenerative medicine treatments, contact our team today. We can offer you expert advice and answer all your questions. We help you make an informed decision about whether regenerative medicine could be the alternative pain relief solution you seek. Whatever the cause of your condition, we can advise you about whether our stem cell therapies could be beneficial. Its our mission to help you live a happier, healthier, and pain-free life.

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Oklahoma Institute of Regenerative Health in Oklahoma City, OK

Posted: at 2:45 am

Regenerative medicine involves isolating regenerative cells from a healthy source, and introducing them into the body. Localized treatments utilizing growth factors, cytokines, proteins and mesenchymal stem cells may help with shoulder, knee, wrist and many other joint pain or injuries by amplifying the bodys self-healing nature, which may help repair damaged tissue caused by injury, age or disease.

As experts in regenerative medicine, the Oklahoma Institute of Regenerative Health team has helped thousands of patients like you using the worlds most advanced minimally invasive treatments. Our therapies are used for treating degenerative medical conditions and common injuries, such as osteoarthritis, torn ligaments, muscular tears and sprains. Through extensive experience, our medical staff believe regenerative therapy can improve patient outcomes, and restore a higher quality of life. While every patient is different, one of our therapies may help you, as many of our patients see results within a couple of months of receiving treatment.

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Oklahoma Institute of Regenerative Health in Oklahoma City, OK

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Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs and Cats Is Innovative at Stafford Veterinary Hospital – By MARIA SCANDALE – The SandPaper

Posted: January 20, 2020 at 5:46 am

Stafford Township, NJ Stem cell therapy is an incredible process for healing damaged tissue, so it seems remarkable that it is availablefor petsright here in Manahawkin. Stafford Veterinary Hospital, at 211 North Main St., began offering the advanced treatment in 2019, under the direction of Michael Pride, medical director at the facility.

There, stem cell therapy is most commonly applied to osteoarthritis, but can also be used in dogs suffering from hip dysplasia and ligament and cartilage injuries, as well as mobility ailments and some chronic inflammatory issues such as inflammatory bowel disease and chronic kidney disease, which is common in cats.

Stem cell therapy is actually the only thing that can help to reverse the process of arthritis, Pride said. Everything else is a Band-Aid.

This process can actually help to rebuild cartilage and really reduce inflammation without the need of using aspirin-type medications, Pride said. Its a newer technology that we can use to avoid chronic use of medications, which might actually be detrimental in the long term for the liver or kidneys.

Stem cell therapy treats the source of the problem by offering the ability to replace damaged cells with new ones, instructs the website

Stem cells are powerful healing cells in the pets body that can become other types of cells. For example, in the case of arthritis, stem cells can become new cartilage cells and have natural anti-inflammatory properties, thus reducing pain and increasing mobility.

The stem cells are your primary structural cell for all other cells in the body; they can differentiate into almost any other cell, explained Pride. Were processing it down into that primordial stem cell; were activating it, and were injecting it into where it needs to be, and it just starts taking on the characteristics of the cells around it.

Table-top machines from MediVet Biologics are the first Adipose Stem Cell therapy kits for in-clinic use, a major advancement. Stem cell therapy for animals has been commercially available since 2004. MediVet pioneered in-clinic treatment options around 2010.

Pride believes Stafford Veterinary Hospital offers the only such treatment in the immediate area; another is in Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic County.

Were always trying to figure out different ways to help the patient without hurting them, he said while petting a kitten that had been a patient for another type of treatment.

As stem cell therapy is more in the news regarding humans, a pet owners first question might be where the stem cells come from that are used in the process. The answer: from fat tissue of the pet itself, extracted and processed the same day.

As the therapy has been refined in the last decade, it has actually started to become a lot easier, more cost-effective more recently, said Pride, since weve been able to process fat tissue instead of actually getting bone marrow.

Fat tissue actually has a much higher concentration of adult stem cells than bone marrow does, so its less painful for the patient, they heal a lot easier, and we dont have to process it in a different facility.

Everything comes from the animal, and we give it back to the animal. Nothing comes from another animal. We dont have to worry about them rejecting the sample; its their own tissue, and were giving it back to them.

The pet typically goes home the same day after about eight hours. First, X-rays and a consultation with the veterinarian can determine whether the pet is a candidate for the treatment.

A pet owner may not even know that their animal has arthritis.

Cats have a lot of inflammatory issues that they tend to be very good at hiding, said Pride. A lot of people dont realize that they have arthritis. They think, oh, my cats just getting older; hes not jumping as much; hes not as strong; hes just sleeping most of the day, but actually he has arthritis. Its very difficult to diagnose in cats. A lot of times you end up having to do X-rays to find where the arthritic joints happen to be.

An inch-and-a-half incision is the minor surgery that harvests the fat tissue from the belly while the pet is anesthetized. For a cat, about 20 gramsare extracted. For a large dog, about 40 gramsare needed. While the pet is recovering from the incision surgery, the veterinary hospital is processing the sample. When the sample is ready, the pet is sedated because we then have to give them the joint injections. Then we can reverse the sedation, and they go home.

We asked the doctor if the process always works. He gave the example that on average, a dog such as a boxer that was hobbled is now able to walk without seeming like its painful. In an extreme positive case, a dog that had been barely walking might be bouncing all over the place in two months.

It doesnt always work to the extent that we would love it to, but we usually notice that there is a positive effect from it, Pride remarked. Every patient will be different in what they experience.

For the same reason that everyones situation is going to be different, cost of treatment was not given for this story.

It generally takes about 30 to 60 days for relief to show, the veterinarian said, and the animals progress will be monitored.

On average, results last about 18 months to two years before more stem cells might have to be injected. The procedure takes about an hour.

The nice thing is once we collect those stem cells (from the first procedure), we can bank the leftovers they are cryogenically stored at MediVet corporate headquarters in Kentucky and we dont have to go through the initial anesthetic surgery, said Pride.

Stem cell therapy is one of several innovative modalities available at Stafford Veterinary Hospital. Laser therapy, acupuncture and holistic medicine are others. Care for exotic pets is available, as is emergency pet care.

Visit the website or call 609-597-7571 for more information on general and specialized services, including: vaccinations, microchipping, spayingand neutering, dental care, wellness exams, dermatology, gastrology, oncology, opthalmology, cardiology, soft-tissue surgery, ultrasound, radiography, nutrition, parasite control, boarding, laborand delivery, end-of-life care, and cremation.

Stafford Veterinary Hospital has been in business since 1965, founded by Dr. John Hauge. Today, five highly skilled veterinarians are on staff, and a satellite, Tuckerton Veterinary Clinic, is at 500 North Green St. in Tuckerton.

Pride has been medical director at Stafford Veterinary Hospital since 2008. He attended Rutgers University, then earned his Veterinary of Medicine degree at Oklahoma State University.

The mild-mannered doctor feels a great rewardfrom treating animals that cant speak for themselves when they feel bad.

These guys, theyre always thankful; you can see what they think, he said of treated pets. The turnaround in their attitude, the turnaround in their ability to be more comfortable, you can see it in their faces; you can see it in their actions. You learn to read animals over time.

Its knowing that were helping those who cant help themselves, he added, and you can see it in them; thats the most gratifying.

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Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs and Cats Is Innovative at Stafford Veterinary Hospital - By MARIA SCANDALE - The SandPaper

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10-Year-Old Walks Graduation Stage for Father with Leukemia – Breitbart

Posted: December 23, 2019 at 9:45 am

Nathaniel Beales ten-year-old son, Noah, took his place at his University of Oklahoma graduation on Saturday.

Nathaniel Beale was diagnosed with leukemia in July but completed his degree during treatment. Unfortunately, he was physically unable to attend the graduation celebration of his hard-won academic victory due to an upcoming surgery.

In his place, ten-year-old Noah Beale stepped up to support his father by taking his place at the graduation ceremony. Beale watched a livestream of his son accepting the diploma.

Leukemia affects roughly 1.6 percent of men and women, with 414,773 suffering from the deadly blood cancer in the United States. 61,780 new cases have been reported, and 22,840 have died in 2019 alone. As described by the National Cancer Institute:

Leukemia is cancer that starts in the tissue that forms blood. Most blood cells develop from cells in the bone marrow called stem cells. In a person with leukemia, the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells. The abnormal cells are leukemia cells. Unlike normal blood cells, leukemia cells dont die when they should. They may crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This makes it hard for normal blood cells to do their work.

While there is no cure, over 62 percent of patients survive five or more years after diagnosis. With the support of his son and family, Beales fight for life continues.

10-Year-Old Walks Graduation Stage for Father with Leukemia - Breitbart

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Report: The judge in Oklahoma admits that part of the $ 572 million fee for J & J in the case of opioids was miscalculated – asume tech

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 2:44 am


A judge in Oklahoma admitted that a miscalculation has led to his charging excessive fees to one of the world's largest drug companies in a case involving opioids.

The Associated Press said Tuesday that Cleveland County, Oklahoma, District Judge Thad Balkman has acknowledged the failure to charge a $ 107,000 charge for $ 107 million, for a premium of $ 572 million Johnson & Johnson, headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, would have to pay the state.

Balkman told J & J to pay the $ 572 million in August after finding that the drug maker in Oklahoma had created a "public nuisance" by helping to fuel the opioid crisis. J & J appealed the verdict last month, stating that Balkman had made a miscalculation of the $ 107 million charge.

In its Tuesday report, the Associated Press reported that J & J lawyers are seeking an additional reduction in the amount. With the 107,000 US dollars, a program for the treatment of opioid-dependent born babies should be developed.

Regardless, the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported that the country's top three drug distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health were talking about settling opiate disputes worth $ 18 billion. Citing the persons familiar with the discussions, the newspaper reported that the amount was paid out over a period of 18 years, while J & J itself was being discussed for contributing additional money.

J & J, the aforementioned distributors and several other companies are facing more than 2,000 litigation by state and local authorities that their marketing of opioid painkillers has contributed to the nationwide epidemic of drug additions. The cases are part of a multiple district litigation (MDL) hearing this month in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

One of MDL's best-known companies, Purdue Pharma, filed for more than $ 10 billion in bankruptcy last month, although several attorneys general have criticized this move. Other MDL companies include other opioid manufacturers and retailers such as Walgreens.

Photo: MedCity News

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Report: The judge in Oklahoma admits that part of the $ 572 million fee for J & J in the case of opioids was miscalculated - asume tech

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Are Pricey Fertility Treatments Helping Women Have Babies…Or Preying On Them? – Women’s Health

Posted: at 2:44 am

Lauren Citro, 32, has been trying to conceive for nearly six years.

Shes received fertility treatments at four clinics in three states.

In her effort to exhaust all options, shes sampled almost every intervention recommended: immunology testing, assisted hatching, supplements, acupuncture, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, testicular sperm extraction and the list goes on.

She trusted her doctorsand didnt want to drive herself crazy Googling things when fertility treatment is already a high-stress processbut the info she received from providers tended to be minimal and conflicting. Case in point: She went through whats known as an endometrial scratch that was described as highly recommended at her third clinic, only to find out it was entirely dismissed at a fourth place, because of the trauma it causes.

So Citro finally started doing some sleuthing online. Now, she asks a lot more questions. And as time goes on, and the more she hunts for evidence, the less shes willing to try different options. Our rationale used to be cant hurt, might help, Citro, a nurse in San Diego, says of the additional treatments she and her husband had during six IVF retrievals and four transfers (total cost: more than $100,000). But thats not necessarily the case. (She points to another example: a $7,000 testicular extraction of sperm that the results said had no impact on our outcome.)

About 10 percent of women in the U.S. struggle to conceive or stay pregnant, and nearly 2 percent of all births in the country are via in vitro fertilization (IVF), which costs upwards of $15,000. But beyond that, more than two-thirds of fertility clinic patients spend up to $10,000 per cycle on so-called optional extras or add-onsemerging techniques a clinic might offer on top of mainstream fertility treatment (i.e., IVF), supposedly to improve the odds even further and typically (almost always) for an additional cost. Add-ons, like the ones Citro tried, are rarely covered by insurancethough, in general, getting any part of your fertility treatment covered is still not the norm.

On some level, fertility treatment is like going to a Chinese restaurant and picking items from a dim sum cart, and it shouldnt be that way.

Many health-care providers are becoming increasingly worried that fertility extras come with costs far beyond monetary ones. Out of a group of routinely offered add-ons, 26 of 27 lacked rigorous, conclusive research to back their effectiveness for improving pregnancy or birth rates, found a recent investigation conducted by Oxford University and published in the British Medical Journal. Plus, the research IDd at least one of the procedures (preimplantation genetic screening, which well get to later) as potentially harmful.

On some level, fertility treatment is like going to a Chinese restaurant and picking items from a dim sum cart, and it shouldnt be that way, says Rachel Ashby, MD, an ob-gyn at Brigham and Womens Hospital Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Piling on to the controversy is the fact that some experts believe there are flaws in the way U.S. fertility clinics are overseen. The U.S. requires fertility centers to report the basic details of each treatment cycleoutcomes, infertility diagnosis, number of embryos transferred, use of fresh or frozen embryos, donor or non-donor eggsto the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year.

So in that sense, the industry is highly regulated. While that sounds like a positive fact, there is no penalty if a clinic doesnt report to the CDC; its simply listed as non-reporting.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) also offers practice guidelines and opinions on how clinics should operate, including whether certain add-ons should be used on all patients, but businesses are not required to follow these either.

Many experts in the field say that for a lot of interventions, the science isnt there yet. That doesnt mean it will never advance, or that add-ons unanimously deserve a shady rap. But until we know whether an add-on works for a certain patient groupand whether the potential benefit outweighs the risksome believe they should be offered sparingly, with the science (and its flaws) and the pros and cons laid out clearly and deliberately for every single patient. Unfortunately, that doesnt always happen.

Whew, thats a lot to unpack. The data is messy and unfinished. Clinic regulation is loose. Yet women remain hopeful. And how could they not when faced with the opportunity to do everything in their power to start a family? WH goes deep

The debate is a minefield, starting with the word add-on itself. These treatments are generally unproven, yes. Still, many healthcare providers and patients are so insistent about the value that they bristle at the mere suggestion that add-ons are frivolous.

Deborah Anderson-Bialis, a founder of FertilityIQ, a website that provides independent analysis of clinics and doctors, points out that proponents would much prefer the phrase options for treatment to add-ons, because the latter has a negative connotation and implies theyre unnecessary. Some medical publications use the term adjuvants instead of add-ons.

This year, the United Kingdoms fertility regulatory agency began rating nearly a dozen add-ons with a traffic light system, with green reserved for procedures shown to be effective and safe by at least one good-quality randomized clinical trial (the gold standard of research). Not one has received a green rating yet. And if youre wondering, the U.S. has far less regulation than the U.K., which may stem from Congresss 1996 ban on the use of federal funds for research related to the creation of embryos.

Heres a snapshot of the points of contention:

The most commonly advocated add-on in recent years is preimplantation genetic testing for an abnormality called aneuploidy, or PGT-A. Its also one of the most expensive ($3,000 to $8,000, depending on where you live). Some practices, particularly in competitive markets like New York, recommend it (and sometimes insist on it) for 100 percent of patients, according to Norbert Gleicher, MD, founder of New Yorks Center for Human Reproduction. But there is so far no evidence that it increases live birth rates, which is why insurance doesnt cover it. The U.K.s watchdog group has given the screening a red-light rating, as it risks damaging fragile embryos by removing cells to test for these abnormalities. Meanwhile, an ASRM committee analyzed the available studies and concluded there was insufficient evidence to recommend the routine use.

But this is where things start to get complicatedlike, really complicated. Proponents of PGT-A will point out that theres a potential upside with PGT-A in women who have miscarried (aneuploidy is thought to be the biggest cause of miscarriages). And while PGT-A did not improve the live birth rate in all subjects, women over 38 who had PGT-A screening were found to have a better chance of achieving a live birth and were significantly less likely to have a miscarriage, possibly because they avoid being implanted with an embryo thats genetically abnormal from the get-go, found a study in Human Reproduction. This may be reason enough for some women to choose it. That all being said, the study authors note that it remains to be seen whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of cost and invasiveness.

This is a tool we can use to lessen our patients suffering and also give them some peace of mind that the pregnancy thats created is genetically normal, argues Catha Fischer, MD, an ob-gyn at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey. Two sides to every coin, in a sense.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a common add-on.

This is when the single best-looking sperm (and it definitely is a beauty contest; its done by sight) is picked to be injected into the egg. (In conventional IVF, the egg is put in a petri dish with a bunch of sperm, and whichever one gets to it first is the winner.) For people who have no evidence of male-factor infertility, which is at least 50 percent of patients, the chances of getting pregnant are identical whether you pay the $1,000 to $2,500 for ICSI or not. Yet ICSI is being offered to people who arent, as doctors say, medically indicated for the issue. In fact, 66 percent of IVF cycles used ICSIand only 32 percent actually had male-factor infertility aloneper the latest CDC report.

Whats more, the British fertility regulatory authority warned that ICSI has slightly more risk than other fertility treatments; eggs may be damaged when theyre cleaned and injected with sperm. ICSI may also be associated with genetic and developmental disorders, though its not clear whether this is connected to the treatment itself or the infertility that prompted its use.

The add-on is so controversial that it has prompted experts to stand up and scream at each other at otherwise staid medical conferences, which Anderson-Bialis has witnessed. The method uses drugs to suppress the mothers immune system, based on the theory that her immune system goes out of control and mistakenly targets her pregnancy, possibly causing infertility, failed IVF, or miscarriage.

A little perspective here: Those are just a few examples of hot-button add-onsfrom a list of nearly 30. And not every supplemental fertility tool has such clear potential downsides. Most others just dont have verified positivesand cost a lot.

The yes mentality, explained

The fact that patients are embracing add-ons makes total sense: Youre determined to grow your family, and the fertility window is cracked open only so long, right? It can feel as if there simply isnt time to wait for conclusive research. And given the incredible expenses of fertility treatment, many women prefer to walk away knowing they gave it their absolute best shot.

We spent a lot of money because we wanted to feel like we did everything we could, says Citro, who notes that for months after her last cycle, it was difficult to talk about her long quest for parenthood without crying. Its an emotional roller coaster.

In these situations, many people are understandably searching for a sense of control, says psychologist Jessica Zucker, PhD, who specializes in womens reproductive and maternal mental health. When your body isnt doing what you wanted or expected it to do, all sorts of feelings can result from thisdisappointment most especially. But you have ownership over what youre willing to go through to try to conceive. So its a good idea to get familiar with your limits.

There is a mistaken notion that medical treatments are either futile or backed by large, well-controlled randomized studies."

These extras also glitter with a success halo. Its tempting to revel in positive stories in online communities and message boards and read into the content. But, says Dr. Ashby, anecdotes are two steps below voodoo in terms of value. There are more than 200you read that rightvariables that can impact an IVF cycle, according to Mandy Katz-Jaffe, PhD, scientific director of the fertility clinic network CCRM. So its not possible to pinpoint one single variable as responsible for the birth of a healthy baby.

However, when youre struggling with infertility, theres power and comfort in believing. Maybe Ill be the one person in 1,000 it works for, you imagine. Katie Coester, 37, of Washington, D.C., went to a clinic that didnt try to upsell, as she describes, and recommended only two add-ons: testing embryos for chromosome abnormality and endometrial scratching. (Her IVF was covered by insurance; the additions cost her some $2,000.) She also scoured message boards for possible ways to increase her odds, which is how she ended up doing acupuncture, watching funny movies (a small study done in Israel recommended laughter), and eating, er, pineapple core.

Coester had only one fallopian tube and was 31 when she started treatment. She had fairly quick successbut if she hadnt, she thinks she would have paid for anything and everything. You think, Ive come this far, says Coester, who is now a mother of two. Even with insurance coverage, we had to say, How far are we willing to push my body? What is the emotional toll were willing to take?

This brings us to the line the medical world is currently struggling to straddle: finding middle ground between forgoing ineffective and costly treatments and offering patients potentially helpful ones that just may not have a large randomized controlled trial behind them, says Zev Williams, MD, PhD, chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Columbia University Fertility Center.

There is a mistaken notion that medical treatments are either futile or backed by large, well-controlled randomized studies, says Dr. Williams. The reality is much more nuanced than thatthere is a large area in the middle where there is either preliminary or limited data showing benefit.

Karina Shreffler, PhD, a professor of human development and family science at Oklahoma State University, says the super-solid research studies are extremely expensive and difficult to secure funding for and also complicated to run. You need a large enough sample of diverse women receiving a specific kind of treatment (and a control group of similar women who dont receive the treatment). Even then, she says, youd be working within the challenge that only some women seek fertility treatment, and that theyre different from the women who dont (due to lack of finances, ethical reasons, and geography). So that poses additional considerations when it comes to interpreting the results.

Until the science catches up (if it does, that is), the Big Question remains: Why do clinics offer these treatments in infantile stages? First, many interventions in medicinenew cancer treatments, for instanceare instituted before theres a ton of research if there is even a slight inkling that they may help. Or, sadly, the more cynical take: Offering add-ons gives clinics a financial edge, many experts suggest. Because so few insurance companies pay for PGT-A, for example, private clinics and labs get the full fee, as opposed to insurance companies lower reimbursement rates, making the procedure a moneymaker for the fertility industry. These things are highly profitable, says Arthur Caplan, PhD, founding director of NYU Langones Division of Medical Ethics. Its We have desperate people here, and we can sell them anything.

If youre in the market for treatment, the bottom-line advice is to hitch your wagon to a health-care professional who is willing to take the time to educate youand to know you. If you meet with a doctor, and all youre getting is this is what you should do, then you need to find a new one, says Dr. Ashby. A praiseworthy provider will help you analyze and interpret conflicting fertility datawhich is tough to do as a laypersonand will also draw from their experience treating patients with cases similar to yours. (Dr. Fischer likes to tell patients, If youre thinking about Googling a question, just email me instead. I can shield you from worrying over misinformation or a misunderstanding.)

Grappling with infertility can suck the life out of you. But in the end, the best you can do is try to make an informed decision.

With all the new fertility and egg-freezing pop-ups, its critical to consider quality and experience over flashy marketing and trinkets. A doctors goal, always, should be to give every patient the very best chance of success and to practice patient-focused and evidence-based care, while also being transparent about the data behind medical recommendations, says Dr. Williams. More safeguarding suggestions: Consider a facility that is attached to a university, and seek out multiple opinions before green-lighting a procedure for yourself.

Citro, for one, needs a break from it allthe doctors, the studies, the clinics, the add-ons, the Googling. She hit pause for now but has not lost hope. After nearly six years of letting infertility dominate her life, she and her husband took a break from IVFand a vacation to Europe. We know well go back to treatment eventually, she says. We really hope that we end up with kids. Whatever happens, I want to look back and know that I made the very best decisions for me.

How to Prep for the Unknown Grappling with infertility can suck the life out of you. But in the end, the best you can do is try to make an informed decision. Go in with an investment plan of sorts (in your mind or on paper) that details what youre comfortable putting into the process monetarily and emotionally. Brainstorm in advance what youre willing to devote to thisthe money, the energy, the time off from work if you need, perhapsand what youre not, says psychologist Jessica Zucker, PhD. Maintain flexibility. Its okay if your expectations and limitations evolve or change over time. Try not to judge yourself at any stage of the process, she stresses. In the end, you got this, no matter what that means for you.

This article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of Women's Health.

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Are Pricey Fertility Treatments Helping Women Have Babies...Or Preying On Them? - Women's Health

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