Q & A

(Edited for clarity; this was a panel with Dr. Steward and Dr. Blackmore, moderated by Bob Yant.  The first question was about combination therapies.)

Dr. Steward: Pten operates at the signaling end of things and regulates the synthesis of proteins that are critical for growth.

Socs 3 is another gene that regulates the transcription of a particular RNA.

Together they create a double intervention . . . deleting them both amplifies regeneration in the optic nerve by a factor of 10 . . . right now they’re growing animals to start this very project on animal model sci in a couple of months.

Emphasis from advocate Bob Yant . . . if they can get a few segments from one intervention, and the combination gets you 10 times that, you basically have the whole effing cord, which is 30 segments  (effing was my contribution, Bob Yant definitely didn’t say that).

New question . . . is it possible to use information from a recent giant project about so-called “junk dna” in this effort?

Answer . . . most of the RNA that gets transcribed doesn’t seem to be doing anything . .. there’s a sea of it floating around in every cell . . . Blackmore is saying that he thinks this is a new target.

New question . . . so this is the first time we have recovery in animal models . . . is it right that pten alone didn’t get a lot of recovery, but combined  with Gibrin, it was there?

Answer . . . yes, we think that at least in the rat setting, pten alone isn’t that functionally dramatic .  . on the question of the lesion, we use cervical models because it’s the most common injury . . . but we can’t do complete injuries because rodents can’t survive them.  As far as Fibrin — it’s a glue.  in these experiments we used fish Fibrin.

Question:  very exciting stuff . . . curious to understand a little more, what’s the path from mice to humans?  Same or similar genes involved?  How does the longterm pathway unfold?

Answer:  From the science side, these pathways –pten, etc — are ancient and conserved.  Flies have them.  Mice have them.  There’s reason to believe that they’re conserved in humans as well.  As far as how you get from a virus that works in a lab to a human, I’m deferring to people who understand the nuts and bolts and the money a lot better than I do.

Question:  How much do you guys — the field — actually talk together about these things?  Who’s in charge of collaboration?

Answer: Nobody.

Question: That’s what I thought.  And that’s a problem.

Answer:  Yeah, we know.  And all of us are struggling in our own ways to fund our own labs.  The NIH is going to lose some funding this year.

Question:  Funding is a problem, and I get that, but it doesn’t seem to me that it’s efficient to use the resources the way we do, in competition.  We need somebody globally guiding the ship.  If the ship exists and it’s not the Titanic, the money will come from the global community.  We as a community need to guide this ship.  The effort to cure SCI needs air traffic control.

Answer:  Good comment.

Question: NASA was funded because scientists got together.  Isn’t it time for all the scientists to get together and create something?  Couldn’t they get enough money together to get it done?  Bob, you’re the perfect guy to put that together.  Friends of mine within a week gave $18.5 million, willingly.  The money is out there.  People do want to see a profit, but it seems like if there was a common leadership, it could be done.  United.  United to fight paralysis.

Answer:  (Bob Yant) — for myself, this is still at a basic research level.  The biotech world is way different from 15 years ago; today investors are more savvy and cautious.  Many of them call this kind of project the valley of death.  I’ve been to maybe 100 conferences, and this moment is almost surreal, to have been in this room hearing two different scientists talk about regeneration in published work that led to functional recovery.

Gahhhh.  Time for this session is over.  Holy smokes.

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2 Comments on “Q & A”

  1. Colin83 Says:

    More good questions to come I hope !


  2. […]  At the Q and A session with Dr Blackmore and Dr Steward, advocate Bob Yant’s […]


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