Saturday, October 1, 2011

10.1.11 - Phish concert for Irene recovery & stem cell treatment..can it work?

On September 14th, Jamie and I went to the Phish concert, A Benefit for Vermont Flood Recovery. I'm not a huge Phish fan - meaning that I like their music but I'm not obsessed. The light show was AMAZING. Here are some pictures from the show...

visitors from above

I love how this one looks like UFOs landing


a flash of light

the blast of light and the raised fist really makes this one for me

lighting effects

I've been told that the lighting technician has been working with Phish for 25 years so he knows the exact timing for the lights to go with the music.  It shows!
a hazy shade of blue

a moment of zen

        everything seemed still for a moment
abstract lights

cool lights

I know, Hello Captain Obvious
bless vt and america


even though I wasn't purposely taking part in the activities (contact buzz) that make these blasts of light so spectacular, I was still blown away.

flying away

Somehow, I took this picture at just the right time as the light beams aligned to make the shape of an airplane.  Although there were many shapes that were projected around the stage, a plane wasn't one of them.

keeping the peace

These were the cops assigned to the outdoor beer garden - rough job, huh?  They were very nice and showing the feelng of community at the show.


twinkly stars



We were parked next to some great people that are actually from the Warren/Waitsfield area and were affected by Irene. While talking with one of the women, I found out that she also has MS. I'm not quite sure how I managed to find out this information but I also learned that she was one of a select few people to be chosen to have an experimental stem cell implant. Not enough time has passed to know if the treatment has worked, but I feel hopeful for her. I still don't know much about this treatment so I'm sharing an article from The Guardian so we can learn together.
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Stem cells: great expectations
Stem cells have been touted as a potential cure for almost everything – but the reality is still a long way off

September 22, 1:14 PM by Sarah Boseley

A colony of human embryonic stem cells (light blue) growing on fibroblasts (dark blue). Photograph: Reuters

In a sceptical era, when few people still believe that miracle cures can be poured out of medicine bottles, stem cells still fire the imagination and create hope. Maybe that's because it is not just the patients who want to believe that stem cells may one day enable them to walk again, but also the doctors and the scientists.

There is genuine scientific excitement over the concept of using the body's own cellular building blocks to regenerate damaged or ageing organs. "Regenerative medicine" is the scientists' preferred terminology. And although it is still very early days, the lab work and limited experiments so far carried out in animals – and humans – have not disappointed.

The great hope, which the paralysed former Superman star Christopher Reeve shared and to which he dedicated a fortune, is that stem cells may one day repair a damaged spinal cord and allow paralysed patients to walk again.

It may happen. The Geron Corporation in the US has begun experiments on humans. It has now injected two patients with its stem cell product, catchily codenamed GRNOPC1. So far the company has revealed only that neither patient, injected between seven and 14 days after their catastrophic injury and given just two months of therapy, had any serious side-effects from the treatment. There are all sorts of imponderables, from the size of the dose to the timing and location of the injection to the critical issue of whether the stem cells will survive inside the body, which mean it will be years before we have any clear idea as to whether this is going to work.

But some stem cell treatments have been spectacularly successful, such as the rebuilding of Claudia Castillo's windpipe . Tuberculosis had wreaked such damage that the 30-year-old mother of two was barely able to climb the stairs before an enthusiastic, pioneering international group of doctors chose her to be the lucky subject of a stem cell experiment.

The operation took place in Barcelona, but with input from some of the world's top scientists in London and Italy as well as Spain. They took stem cells from bone marrow in her hip and tricked them into becoming cartilage. Then they seeded them on to a piece of donated windpipe, which was transformed into something her body recognised as one of its own organs. Now she goes dancing.

Castillo's treatment involved adult stem cells. Bone marrow cells are particularly responsive to persuasion to become something else, but the clock can also be wound back on skin cells and other adult cells in the laboratory. Embryonic cells, which have not yet developed into anything, are best of all – removed from the blastocyst, which is the embryo at only a few days gestation when it is the size of a full stop. The disadvantage is the religious and moral dismay such work can excite.

The basic stem cell concept is so simple that it is hardly surprising that they have been touted as a potential cure for so many diseases. There is great hope for Parkinson's disease, but huge caution on the part of reputable scientists – not least since the disastrous outcome of an early experiment in 40 patients in Denver, reported in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 2001 . Embryonic nerve cells were injected into the brain, in the hope that they would supply the missing dopamine. Some of the younger patients improved, but 15% of the group had a stunning and distressing response about a year in. They began to writhe, jerk their heads and flail their arms uncontrollably as the foetal cells went into overdrive. One scientists said they were "absolutely devastated".Patients who are in a desperate state easily fall prey to quacks and charlatans who offer injections of "stem cells" that may be nothing of the sort – or if they are, have probably not been differentiated to turn into the type of cell that is needed. Such were the doctors who injected stem cells into patients with multiple sclerosis – at one point offering treatment on the Cork to Swansea ferry, the Guardian discovered , when they were forbidden by the authorities from holding a clinic on the Irish mainland.

But the excitement over the potential of stem cells has not been dampened by such abuse, because those who really know – the scientists in the field – really believe in the cures to come. Sadly for those who need help now, it is going to take a long time, but happily for humankind, the future looks unusually hopeful.

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The show was terrific.  Although I don't want to hear of more people being diagnosed with MS, it was amazing to meet our tailgate neighbor, AR, my fellow MSer.

Last thing,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SARAH, my seester!!!!!