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Fighting Heart Disease: A Guest Post by @diverdonreed #heart #medicine #stemcell #heartdisease #boo

Dr. Pat Olson, Gloria Reed, and Don Reed

Gloria, my wife of 48 years, was walking down the street toward me.

But something was wrong. Her face was gray. She said she had pain in her back and chest. One arm felt heavy, and she had broken out in a cold sweat.

It took some doing, but last she was safe and snug in a hospital bed in the emergency room. There was a needle in the back of her hand, wires taped to her chest, an oxygen clip in her nose, as well as the background beep of electronic monitors, the squeak of nurses’ ripple-soled shoes—

“I’m bored,” said Gloria.

Heart attack. The number one cause of death in America—claiming approximately one million lives every year.

Some have heart conditions that are not immediately fatal, but which put their owners at risk.

The American Heart Association estimates that 5.7 million Americans suffer from heart failure. Cardiovascular disease costs our country an estimated $286 billion in direct (out of pocket) and indirect (time lost from work) expenses.

Heart transplants are practical; the only problem is, there are not enough spare hearts to fill the need.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney had to wait 20 months for a transplanted heart. At last a suitable replacement heart was found, and his life continues today.

Might there be a stem cell answer? Joseph Wu is trying to find out. Working with Deepak Srivastava of the Gladstone Institute and Wolfram Zimmerman of the University Medical Center at Goettingen in Germany, Dr. Wu is battling to find ways to repair the damage left by a heart attack.

Their weapon is tissue engineering, which involves the development of biological substitutes to restore, maintain, or improve the functioning of a body part.

Dr. Joseph Wu is working to develop a stem cell “tire patch” for damaged hearts.

Dr. Wu said: “Our proposal seeks to use…tissue patches seeded with human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (heart cells for treatment heart disease) in small and large animals…”

Have you ever fixed a flat tire on a bicycle, and had to glue on a rubber patch?

Tissue engineering may work similarly, except the patch becomes part of the patient.

As quoted from his fund request statement, Dr. Wu said: “Novel therapies with stem cells in combination with supportive scaffolds (are emerging as a promising) avenue. Engineered tissues have now been used to make new bladders for patients… and more recently new trachea (in the throat—DR) for patients with late stage tracheal cancer.

“Our team intends to push the envelope by developing human tissue-engineered myocardium—heart muscle for treatment (after) heart failure.

“...we are confident we will be able to derive a lead candidate that can move into…preclinical development. These discoveries will benefit millions of patients with heart failure in California and globally.”

And Gloria?

“I found no evidence of lasting damage,” the doctor said.

We had dodged a bullet.

With proper diet and exercise, my angel will be free to harass her husband for years to come.

Title: California Cures! How the California Stem Cell Program is Fighting Your Incurable Disease!

Author: Don C. Reed

Genre: Medicine, Stem Cell Research, Sciences

Book Blurb:

Thirteen years ago, America faced an epidemic of chronic disease: cancer, paralysis, blindness, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and more.

But California voters said "YES!" to a $3 billion stem cell research program: the awkwardly-named California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Born into battle, the scrappy little state agency was immediately blocked by three years of anti-science lawsuits — but it defeated them all. And then?

A quiet triumph. With a focused intensity like the Manhattan Project (but for peaceful purposes, not to build a bomb), scientists funded by CIRM took on the challenges: disease and disability called chronic: incurable.

In a series of connected stories, accurate though written to entertain, "California Cures" relates a war: science against disease, with lives on the line. Think what it means for a paralyzed young man to recover the use of his hands, or for a formerly-blind mother to see her teenaged children — for the first time!

Do you know the "bubble-baby" syndrome? Infants without a proper immune system typically die young; a common cold can kill. But for eighteen babies in a stem cell clinical trial, a different future: they were cured of their disease.

No one can predict the pace of science, nor say when cures will come; but California is bringing the fight. The reader will meet the scientists involved, the women and men behind the microscope, and share their struggle.

Above all, "California Cures" is a call for action. Washington may argue about the expense of health care (and who will get it), but California works to bring down the mountain of medical debt: stem cell therapies to ease suffering, and save lives.

Will California build on success — and invest $5 billion more in stem cell research?

"We have the momentum", says author Don C Reed, "We dare not stop short. Chronic disease threatens everyone — we are fighting for your family, and mine!"


  • Introduction: Evangelina and the Golden State

  • The Absolute Minimum You Need to Know First

  • To Breathe, or Not to Breathe

  • The Strongest Man in the World

  • When the Dolphin Broke My Ear

  • The Boy with Butterfly Skin

  • The Great Baldness "Comb-Over" Replacement?

  • "He Sees! He Sees!"

  • Cop at the Window

  • "Go West, Young (Wo)Man" — To a Biomed Career?

  • And How Will You be Paying for that New Heart?

  • The Answer to Cancer?

  • A Political Obstacle to Heart Disease Cure?

  • Your Friend, the Liver!

  • "Bring 'em Back Alive"

  • The Color of Fat

  • Revenge for My Sister

  • A Story with No Happy Ending?

  • Aging and Stem Cells

  • The "Impending Alzheimer's Healthcare Disaster"

  • President Trump's Great Stem Cell Opportunity

  • Leiningen's Ants and Parkinson's Disease

  • On the Morality of Fetal Cell Research

  • Democracy and Gloria's Knees

  • Three Children, and the Eternal Flame

  • Autism, Mini-Brains, and the Zika Virus

  • Why "The Big Bang Theory" Matters to Me

  • Musashi and the Two-Sword Solution

  • "The Magnificent Seven"

  • The Connecticut Commitment

  • In Memory of Beau

  • To Relocate Alligators, or Turn a Country on to Biomed?

  • Whale Sharks and Outer Space

  • Mr Science Goes to Washington?

  • When Oklahoma is Not OK

  • James Bond and Melanoma

  • Neurological Diseases vs. California

  • Driving to the Storm

  • Door into Tomorrow

  • Stem Cell Battles — On Times Square?

  • Annette, Richard Pryor, and Multiple Sclerosis

  • Mike Pence, and Reproductive Servitude

  • Motorcycle Wrecks and Complex Fractures

  • Even Dracula Gets Arthritis

  • Tugboat for Cure

  • Wheelchair Warriors, Take Back Your Rights!

  • Sickle Cell Disease vs. Stem Cell Agency

  • Dwight Clark, "The Catch," and A L S

  • A Friend is Lost

  • Dying in Doonesbury, Fighting Back at UCD

  • The Man with the Autographed Baseball

  • The Gorilla Gynecologist Returns

  • Wrestling the Invisible Enemy

  • Two Warriors Named Joan

  • An End to Heroism?

  • Message from the Middle Kingdom

  • Scientists and the Undocumented

  • The Girl, the Bandit, and Women in Science

  • The Greatest Proposal

  • Forty-Two California Clinical Trials

  • Gathering of Champions

  • Goodbye, Hello!

  • The Answer

  • A Nobel Prize for Bob Klein?

  • Afterword: For More Information

  • Personal Message

  • Index

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Author Biography:

For Don Reed, the inspiration for the work he does is the people he works with and for. Reed is often called the “Grandfather of Stem Cell Research Advocacy”, and has been in the eye of the storm of stem cell research and advocacy since before the passage of Proposition 71, having worked at grassroots, national, international, and state levels to garner public support and advocating for policy action.

Reed’s involvement with stem cell research began after his son Roman was in a paralyzing football accident in 1994. The Reeds pursued multiple treatments and clinical trials nationally and internationally, and in their process of searching for spinal cord injury treatments for Roman, Don was led towards stem cell research. In a pre-computer era, he wrote to every member of the United States Senate and Assembly. Receiving no response, he then reached out to every member in the California Assembly and Senate. Assembly member John Dutra, (D-Fremont, retd.) responded, and the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Act (AB 750), a research funding law, was passed in 1999 and funded America’s first embryonic stem cell therapy.

In 2002, Reed organized grassroots support for California Senator Deborah V. Ortiz (D-Sacramento, retd.) to pass the nation’s first stem cell research laws, giving California official permission to perform both embryonic stem cell research and somatic cell nuclear transfer.

His contribution to stem cell research and advocacy grew when he joined forces with Bob Klein in 2003. Klein’s leadership brought the passage of $3 billion California initiative, Proposition 71, the California Stem Cells for Research and Cures Act, which became the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Reed worked first as a volunteer, and later became vice President for Public Policy for Americans for Cures Foundation, a position he holds today.

Awards and Recognitions: Reed has won numerous advocacy awards, including the first patient advocate award from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the Willie Shoemaker Award for advancing spinal cord injury awareness, the first Genetic Policy Institute Advocate of the year Award, and various writing and teaching awards, including “Teacher of the Year” for Fremont Unified School District, and the National Press Award.

As a writer, he is best known for approximately 200 articles on stem cell politics for the Huffington Post, and as the author of the book, “STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond”. Reed also wrote five books about the ocean, based on his 17 years as a scuba diver for Marine World Africa USA.

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