Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fun With David

Dear lifelong friend, Dave stayed with us for a few nights in Panama City Beach.

He's as healthy, slim and handsome as ever.

We had a blast.  We ate out for breakfast on Wed. morning, then headed to Pier Park for a couple of hours.  We went to a really neat place....  "Wonder Works".  I thought that it was gonna be a goofy "kids" place.  Maybe it was, but we sure enjoyed it!  Stopped for a quick beer at a place new to us....Dat Cajun Place, then headed to Dee's Hangout for a great dinner.  (As usual....they remain the best joint on the beach...wonderful food, friendly staff....can't be beat).

Dave got an early start on Thursday morning to attend a Time Share thing.  He scored a $100 American Express Card and a free week at any of their properties. When he returned to the condo, we headed over to Dave & Busters for the first time.... The place looks like a casino...full of video games.  LOVED IT!

Had dinner at Carrabba's courtesy of Dave's Time Share gift.  Lovely place.  Great food.

Headed home so that the boys could watch some car racing, then went to bed early.

Sadly, my David left around 5am on Friday morning.  

It tickles me that my 2 favorite boys get along so well.  We're trying to convince him to come for a visit when it's warmer in May or June.  Hoping so!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stem cell transplants may work better than existing drug for severe multiple sclerosis

Stem cell transplants may be more effective than the drug mitoxantrone for people with severe cases of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new study published in the February 11, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 21 people whose disability due to MS had increased during the previous year even though they were taking conventional medications (also known as first-line treatments). The participants, who were an average age of 36, were at an average disability level where a cane or crutch was needed to walk.
In MS, the body's immune system attacks its own central nervous system. In this phase II study, all of the participants received medications to suppress immune system activity. Then 12 of the participants received the MS drug mitoxantrone, which reduces immune system activity. For the other nine participants, stem cells were harvested from their bone marrow. After the immune system was suppressed, the stem cells were reintroduced through a vein. Over time, the cells migrate to the bone marrow and produce new cells that become immune cells. The participants were followed for up to four years.

"This process appears to reset the immune system," said study author Giovanni Mancardi, MD, of the University of Genova in Italy. "With these results, we can speculate that stem cell treatment may profoundly affect the course of the disease."

Intense immunosupression followed by stem cell treatment reduced disease activity significantly more than the mitoxantrone treatment. Those who received the stem cell transplants had 80 percent fewer new areas of brain damage called T2 lesions than those who received mitoxantrone, with an average of 2.5 new T2 lesions for those receiving stem cells compared to eight new T2 lesions for those receiving mitoxantrone.

For another type of lesion associated with MS, called gadolinium-enhancing lesions, none of the people who received the stem cell treatment had a new lesion during the study, while 56 percent of those taking mitoxantrone had at least one new lesion.

Mancardi noted that the serious side effects that occurred with the stem cell treatment were expected and resolved without permanent consequences.
"More research is needed with larger numbers of patients who are randomized to receive either the stem cell transplant or an approved therapy, but it's very exciting to see that this treatment may be so superior to a current treatment for people with severe MS that is not responding well to standard treatments," Mancardi said.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Monsanto monarch massacre: 970 million butterflies killed since 1990

The beautiful monarch butterfly, which is also a major pollinator, is being threatened by herbicides that eradicate milkweed, its primary food source. Now, a desperate rejuvenation program is under way to save the species from possible extinction.

A shocking statistic released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday summed up the plight of the monarch butterfly: Since 1990, about 970 million of the butterflies – 90 percent of the total population – have vanished across the United States.

The massacre provides a grim testimony to the delicate balance that exists between man and nature, and how the introduction of a single consumer product – in this case, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide – can wreak so much havoc. Sold to farmers and homeowners as an effective method for eliminating milkweed plants, Roundup Ready, introduced in the 1970s, is widely blamed for decimating the monarch butterflies’ only source of food in the Midwest.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto's Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety, which last week released a report describing the effects of herbicide-resistant crops on monarch butterflies in North America.

“To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.” 

The widespread death of the monarch butterfly has prompted some groups, like the Center for Biological Diversity, to demand the butterfly be placed on the endangered species list.

Dan Ashe, director of Fish and Wildlife Service, preferred to take a diplomatic approach to Monsanto’s hefty contribution to the problem, saying everyone is responsible for the plight of the monarch butterfly.

“We’ve all been responsible. We are the consumers of agricultural products. I eat corn. American farmers are not the enemy. Can they be part of the solution? Yes,” Ashe said.

“It’s not about this wonderful, mystical creature. It’s about us.”

Rejuvenation efforts

The monarch migrates annually thousands of miles - and over the lifespan of many generations - from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada. To complete this migration, the butterfly is dependent upon the milkweed plant, which provides not only a major food source, but a larval host. However, as US farmland continues to eat up the remaining wild places, there appears to be little left to sustain the monarch.

In an effort to restore monarch numbers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to start a milkweed replanting program.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said it will contribute $2 million this year to restoring more than 200,000 acres of monarch habitat, while also “supporting over 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens.” The service will also concentrate rejuvenation efforts on Interstate 35, a 1,568-mile (2,523 km) highway that extends from Texas to Minnesota, which closely follows the monarch’s migration path.

“We can save the monarch butterfly in North America, but only if we act quickly and together,” said Ashe.

The monarch butterfly is not the only pollinator species suffering from the agricultural use of pesticides. Wasps, beetles and especially honeybees have all experienced significant drops in their numbers over the years, which will have adverse effects on America’s crop supply if not soon addressed.


Gordie Howe recovering from stroke after stem-cell transplant

This is absolutely AMAZING.  Wish this would have been around 30+ years ago when my dad suffered a stroke.
Gordie Howe is making a remarkable recovery from a stroke that nearly led to him being placed in hospice care last fall.

The hockey great has gained 20 pounds and is “doing fantastic” after undergoing stem-cell treatment in Mexico in early December, one of his sons told NHL Live. Howe continues to recover at the Lubbock, Texas, home of his daughter.

“He’s doing very, very well,” said Dr. Murray Howe, director of sports medicine imaging of Toledo Hospital. “He has good days and bad days like anybody who’s 86, but overall he’s heading in the right direction really every day, a little bit better. He had his stem cell treatment Dec. 8 and really since that time he’s just been doing fantastic.

“He loves to be busy. If you want to torture him just make him sit down and watch television. He is just about doing stuff. He’s in great spirits. He has an excellent quality of life. He’s doing all the things that he wants to do now other than fishing, only because we haven’t taken him fishing since his treatment, but he’s looking forward to doing that.”

Howe was unable to stand, walk or feed himself after suffering the stroke in late October. “He was losing weight because he wasn’t able to sustain himself in terms of eating,” his son said. “He essentially got to the point where he was bedridden and it was just no quality of life there.”

Although it was feared that he had suffered another stroke in early December, he was suffering from dehydration, but his family was told to consider hospice care. At around the same time, a San Diego biopharmaceutical company reached out to offer treatment at no charge. According to Howe’s son, the results were instant. From’s Jon Lane:

Gordie Howe had the treatment Dec. 8 in Tijuana at a Mexican stem cell company called Novastem that’s licensed the use of Stemedica’s cells for clinical trials approved by the Mexican government. Neural stem cells were injected into the spinal canal on Day 1 and mesenchymal stem cells by intravenous infusion on Day 2, according to a release sent by the Howe family in mid-December.

“They said that we might see some changes in my father within 24 hours and I just didn’t believe it,” Dr. Howe said.

Eight hours later, Gordie Howe began talking. He then demanded to walk to the bathroom.

“I said ‘I’ll get the urinal because you can’t walk’ and he says, ‘Well the [heck] I can’t walk,’” Dr. Howe said. “We actually sat up and put his feet down on the side of bed and I was absolutely stunned. I’d never seen anything like it in 28 years of doing medicine.”


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Super Bowl Sunday

Well, the whole gang was here.  Wendy, Bubby, Dennis, Cheryl and Chris.

Wendy, Bubby and Chris spent the night.

I baked our annual Country Ham (gift from pal Goldie in KY).  Also made Balsamic Vinegar Deviled Eggs, Garlic Deviled Eggs and my "loaded stuffed potato" Potato Salad with Mayo, Sour Cream, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Green Onions and Bacon.  Had a couple different breads and cheeses for the sandwiches.  (We got into the crispy skin before I took a picture...ab fab!)

Wendy brought over a Cheese Plate.  Cheryl brought over a bottle of Patron Cafe.  Chris brought over a Bavarian Cream King Cake.

Between the seven of us, we figured out how to do a Super Bowl Pool....we were like kindergartners!

As usual, we had a grand time!