Stem Cell Research Offers Hope For Some

Published: February 12, 2004
61

KIRKLAND – Hal Newsom never knows if he’s going to have a good day or a bad day.

“Every day in my life I go through anxiety,” he said. “Some days I don’t know if I’ll be able to tie my shoe. I shuffle. Some days I stoop. Other days I’m having a happy time, like skiing.”

Today, he’s more hopeful good days are ahead. The new stem cell research out of South Korea makes him wonder, ‘what if’ doctors could find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease in his lifetime?

“It’s not a cure. A cure is a long way off, but I think it’s a very encouraging step,” said Dr. Alida Griffith of the Booth Gardner Parkinson’s Center at Kirkland’s Evergreen Hospital.

Dr. Griffith and her partner Dr. Anthony Mosley also have new hope. Stem cell research could one day help a variety of patients, from spinal cord injury victims, to Diabetes, M.S. and Alzheimer’s patients.

In the case of Parkinson’s patients, cells in an area of the brain called Substantia Nigra that produce dopamine, stop doing their job. Without dopamine, patients lose control of their movements.

Researchers hope someday stem cell technology will let them inject new cells. “The hope is that you could replace these degenerating cells with fresh healthy cells,” said Dr. Griffith. “If we were able to reverse that one deficit that we would come very close to finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease,” said Dr. Anthony Mosley.

“When I first had Parkinson’s, I thought I probably would never have a cure during my lifetime. Now I believe I will. I’m encouraged,” said Hal. But for now Hal takes three pills, three times a day.

“My success in life is related to these pills.” Someday he hopes doctors don’t treat the disease, they cure it.
By Leslie Knopp