My dear, dear husband gave me an interesting article to read this week. He’s always on the lookout for hopeful news about a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. For you see, he also dreads the day when I cannot walk, move freely, sit up on my own and feed myself. He dreads those days for me, not because of his unwillingness to be a care-giver, but because he KNOWS that I am now rarely still. He knows I accomplish more in one 24 hour period than most people accomplish in 3 days.
He asked me to read an article on Innovation in the December, 2009 issue of Esquire magazine (page 165). The author, Kingsley Kanu, Jr. discusses research being conducted by Kristi Anseth, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Colorado. She is developing a hydrogel that will replace knee cartilage that cannot be regenerated naturally in our bodies.
Hydrogel is a liquid plastic substance that is mixed with TGF beta (Transforming growth factor)- that’s the protein substance that makes our cartilage grow. Once this soft substance is injected into the cartilage-void areas of the knee a very small fiber optic light is shined on the soft stuff to make it firm up into a solid gel. Then it remains in the knee offering the patient relief by providing a cushion where the real cartilage used to be. But interestingly, this soft stuff actually encourages cartilage to grow on its’ own!
The theory is that this flexible soft gel should be able to mix with any type of protein growth substance and then injected into the human body to encourage new cells/tissue to regenerate. Would it be unbelievably wonderful if this soft gel could be mixed with cells from our own brains, thereby triggering the growth of new brain neurons? Could hydrogels be the key to a cure for Parkinson’s Disease?
Kanu says the bioengineer, Anseth, will begin testing this mixture on human knees in “early 2010″ and the gel should be available in 2015. Let’s pray for a quick FDA approval so that Anseth can apply this wonder gel to brain neurons. I’ll be the first to volunteer to be her subject!
Bring it on, Kristi Anseth! A cure for Parkinson’s Disease CANNOT come soon enough!
Posted in Being Hopeful, Bioengineering, Bum knees, Caregivers, Drug manufacturers, Early Onset Parkinson's Disease, Find a CURE for Parkinson's Disease, Medical research, Parkinson's Disease, Technology Tagged: Bioengineering University of Colorado, Esquire Magazine Dec 2009, Hydrogels, Kingsley Kanu Jr., Knee Cartilage Repair, Kristi Anseth