The New York Times, March 7, 2009, by Thomas L. Friedman — Sometimes the satirical newspaper The Onion is so right on, I can’t resist quoting from it. Consider this faux article from June 2005 about America’s addiction to Chinese exports:

Thomas L. Friedman

FENGHUA, China — Chen Hsien, an employee of Fenghua Ningbo Plastic Works Ltd., a plastics factory that manufactures lightweight household items for Western markets, expressed his disbelief Monday over the “sheer amount of [garbage] Americans will buy. Often, when we’re assigned a new order for, say, ‘salad shooters,’ I will say to myself, ‘There’s no way that anyone will ever buy these.’ … One month later, we will receive an order for the same product, but three times the quantity. How can anyone have a need for such useless [garbage]? I hear that Americans can buy anything they want, and I believe it, judging from the things I’ve made for them,” Chen said. “And I also hear that, when they no longer want an item, they simply throw it away. So wasteful and contemptible.”

Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese …

We can’t do this anymore.

“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.

“You can get this burst of wealth that we have created from this rapacious behavior,” added Romm. “But it has to collapse, unless adults stand up and say, ‘This is a Ponzi scheme. We have not generated real wealth, and we are destroying a livable climate …’ Real wealth is something you can pass on in a way that others can enjoy.”

Over a billion people today suffer from water scarcity; deforestation in the tropics destroys an area the size of Greece every year — more than 25 million acres; more than half of the world’s fisheries are over-fished or fished at their limit.

“Just as a few lonely economists warned us we were living beyond our financial means and overdrawing our financial assets, scientists are warning us that we’re living beyond our ecological means and overdrawing our natural assets,” argues Glenn Prickett, senior vice president at Conservation International. But, he cautioned, as environmentalists have pointed out: “Mother Nature doesn’t do bailouts.”

One of those who has been warning me of this for a long time is Paul Gilding, the Australian environmental business expert. He has a name for this moment — when both Mother Nature and Father Greed have hit the wall at once — “The Great Disruption.”

“We are taking a system operating past its capacity and driving it faster and harder,” he wrote me. “No matter how wonderful the system is, the laws of physics and biology still apply.” We must have growth, but we must grow in a different way. For starters, economies need to transition to the concept of net-zero, whereby buildings, cars, factories and homes are designed not only to generate as much energy as they use but to be infinitely recyclable in as many parts as possible. Let’s grow by creating flows rather than plundering more stocks.

Gilding says he’s actually an optimist. So am I. People are already using this economic slowdown to retool and reorient economies. Germany, Britain, China and the U.S. have all used stimulus bills to make huge new investments in clean power. South Korea’s new national paradigm for development is called: “Low carbon, green growth.” Who knew? People are realizing we need more than incremental changes — and we’re seeing the first stirrings of growth in smarter, more efficient, more responsible ways.

In the meantime, says Gilding, take notes: “When we look back, 2008 will be a momentous year in human history. Our children and grandchildren will ask us, ‘What was it like? What were you doing when it started to fall apart? What did you think? What did you do?’ ” Often in the middle of something momentous, we can’t see its significance. But for me there is no doubt: 2008 will be the marker — the year when ‘The Great Disruption’ began.

Target Health met up with Van Jones at a PopTech Conference in Camden, ME. Target Health salutes Obama’s choice for “Green Czar,” and supports the green movement. Target Health is a Green company, aiming for a low carbon footprint, by creating (paperless) clinical trial software for the pharmaceutical industry.


TheAP, March 10, 2009 — Author and activist Van Jones will be a special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation in the Obama administration.

Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a release Monday that Jones will start work next week to help direct the administration’s efforts to create jobs and help the environment. Sutley said Jones will work on “vulnerable communities.”

Jones founded Green for All, a national organization that promises environmentally friendly jobs to help lift people out of poverty. He wrote the New York Times best-seller The Green Collar Economy.

I have already been interviewed by Greenwire and The American Prospect about this appointment, and certainly endorse it wholeheartedly.

Jones has been a (fellow) senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and I am a big fan of him and his work:

One of the key elements of this kind of job is the bully pulpit, to inspire change both inside the administration and outside. Jones is obviously world-class in this regard.

You also need a huge amount of enthusiasm and persistence to succeed in moving the bureaucracy — Jones has that.

I was asked whether such a position is needed at all, when we have a green jobs leader running the Department of Labor, Hilda Solis. The answer is definitely yes, since Labor Secretary can’t tell any other Cabinet officer or agency what to do — so if you want to coordinate a crosscutting initiative that affects so many different departments, including energy, EPA, Commerce, and so on — you need to do this out of the White House.

Only one thing — Let’s not call this a green jobs czar, as no doubt some will be inclined to do. The president has a great many special assistance and we don’t call them czars. Jones is going to be a special advisor in the White House and that job is hard enough without loading on more expectations.

“The Green Collar Economy” is a NYT Bestseller


Van Jones of “Green For All USA” on Building a Green Economy

Van Jones at the Dream Reborn Conference in 2008

Van Jones is an environmental advocate, a civil rights activist and attorney, and a New York Times bestselling author. Based in Oakland, California, Jones is the president and founder of Green For All, a national NGO dedicated to “building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.” His first book, The Green Collar Economy, released on October 7, 2008, was a New York Times bestseller. Jones also founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a California NGO working for alternatives to violence and incarceration

In 2008, Time Magazine named Jones one of its “Environmental Heroes.” Fast Company called him one of the “12 Most Creative Minds of 2008.”

On March 10, 2009, the White House Counsel on Environmental Quality (CEQ) announced Jones’ appointment as Special Advisor on Green Jobs for the CEQ

Jones lives in Oakland, California with his wife and two young sons.

Van Jones was born in 1968 in rural West Tennessee. After earning his B.A. from the University of Tennessee at Martin, Jones left his home state to attend Yale Law School. While in law school, Jones served as an intern at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco. He quickly decided that he would relocate to San Francisco upon finishing at Yale.

In 1993, Jones earned his J.D. and moved to San Francisco.

In 1993, Jones started Bay Area PoliceWatch, the region’s only bar-certified hotline and lawyer-referral service for victims and survivors of police abuse. PoliceWatch began as a project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, but by 1996 had grown big enough to seed a new umbrella NGO, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.

From 1996-1997, Jones and PoliceWatch led a successful campaign to get officer Marc Andaya fired from the San Francisco Police Department. Andaya was the lead officer responsible for the in-custody death of Aaron Williams, an unarmed Black man. In 1999 and 2000, Jones was a major leader in the campaign to defeat Proposition 21, which sparked a vibrant youth and student movement that made national headlines. In 2001, Jones and Ella Baker Center launched the Books Not Bars campaign. From 2001-2003, Jones and Books Not Bars led a successful campaign to block the construction of a proposed “Super-Jail for Youth” in Oakland’s Alameda County. Books Not Bars later went on to launch a statewide campaign to transform California’s juvenile justice system. That campaign is still winning major reforms.

In 2005, Van and Ella Baker Center produced the “Social Equity Track” for the United Nations’ World Environment Day celebration. It was the official beginning of what would eventually become Ella Baker Center’s Green-Collar Jobs Campaign.

The Green-Collar Jobs Campaign was Jones’s first concerted effort to combine his lifelong commitment to racial and economic justice with his newer commitment to solving the environmental crisis. It soon took as its mission the establishment of the nation’s first “Green Jobs Corps” in Oakland. On October 20, 2008, the City of Oakland formally launched the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, a public-private partnership that will “provide local Oakland residents with job training, support, and work experience so that they can independently pursue careers in the new energy economy.”

In 2007, Jones announced plans to launch a new national organization called Green For All. Green For All would take the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign mission — creating green pathways out of poverty — national.

In September, 2007, Jones attended the Clinton Global Initiative and announced his plans to launch Green For All, a new national NGO dedicated to creating green pathways out of poverty in America. The new venture would be a collaboration between Jones and Majora Carter.

Green For All formally opened its doors on January 1, 2008. In its first year, Green For All organized “The Dream Reborn,” the first national green conference where the majority of attendees were people of color. It co-hosted, with 1Sky and the We Campaign, a national day of action for the new economy called “Green Jobs Now.” It launched the Green-Collar Cities Program to help cities build local green economies. It started the Green For All Capital Access Program to assist green entrepreneurs. And Green For All, as part of the Clean Energy Corps Working Group, launched a campaign for a Clean Energy Corps initiative which would create 600,000 ‘green-collar’ jobs while retrofitting and upgrading more than 15 million American buildings.

In reflecting on Green For All’s first year, Jones wrote, “One year later, Green For All is real – and we have helped put green collar jobs on the map…We have a long way to go. But today we have a strong organization to help get us there.”

On October 7, 2008, HarperOne release Jones’s first book, The Green Collar Economy. The book outlines Jones’s “substantive and viable plan for solving the biggest issues facing the country–the failing economy and our devastated environment.” The book has received favorable reviews from such luminaries as Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Laurie David, Paul Hawken, Winona LaDuke and Ben Jealous.

Jones had a limited publicity budget and no national media platform. But a viral, web-based marketing strategy earned the book a #12 debut on the New York Times bestseller list.[14] Jones and Green For All used “a combination of emails and phone calls to friends, bloggers, and a network of activists” to reach millions of people. The marketing campaign’s grassroots nature has led to Jones calling it a victory not for him but for the entire green-collar jobs movement.

The Green Collar Economy is the first environmental book authored by an African-American to make the New York Times bestseller list.

Jones has won many awards and honors, including:

· the 1998 Reebok International Human Rights Award

· the International Ashoka Fellowship

· selection as a World Economic Forum “Young Global Leader”

· the Rockefeller Foundation “Next Generation Leadership” Fellowship

· and the Puffin/Nation prize for “Creative Citizenship”

Among Jones’s honors in 2008:

· the Elle Magazine Green Award 2008

· selection as one of the George Lucas Foundation’s “Daring Dozen 2008”

· Hunt Prime Mover Award 2008

· Campaign for America’s Future “Paul Wellstone Award 2008”;

· Global Green USA “Community Environmental Leadership” Award 2008

· designation as one of the nation’s “Plenty 20” in the October/November 2008 edition of Plenty Magazine

· San Francisco Foundation Community Leadership Award 2008

· selection as a TIME Magazine 2008 Environmental Hero

· designation as one of Essence Magazine’s 25 most influential/inspiring African-Americans of 2008;

· selection as one of Fast Company’s “12 Most Creative Minds of 2008”

In 2008, Tom Friedman profiled Van in his bestselling book, Hot, Flat & Crowded. Also in 2008, Wilford Welch featured him in the book Tactics of Hope, and Joel Makower highlighted Van’s ideas in the book Strategies for the Green Economy.

Jones has also served on the boards of numerous environmental and nonprofit organizations, including the National Apollo Alliance, Social Venture Network, Rainforest Action Network, Bioneers, Julia Butterfly Hill’s “Circle of Life” organization and Free Press. He is also a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress and a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Order Will Expand Embryonic Stem Cell Research; Help Advance Search for Better Treatment and a Cure for Diabetes

Mar. 9, 2009 12:59 PM

ALEXANDRIA, VA — (Marketwire) — 03/09/09 — The American Diabetes Association applauds President Obama for issuing an Executive Order that will advance stem cell research by lifting existing restrictions on the use of embryonic stem cells, while maintaining strict ethical guidelines.

“The ethical use of stem cell research holds the promise of accelerating medical advancements in many fields. This brings hope to the nearly 24 million American adults and children with diabetes who face its many complications including heart disease, amputation, and blindness. Diabetes is also deadly — it is a leading cause of death in the United States,” said R. Paul Robertson, MD, President Medicine & Science, American Diabetes Association.

The American Diabetes Association has long been a strong advocate for ending the current restrictions on stem cell research.

“As a person with type 1 diabetes, I’m encouraged by President Obama’s decisive action on advancing this very important area of research that has the potential for finding a cure for diabetes and so many other devastating diseases,” said George Huntley, CPA, Chair, American Diabetes Association.


Leonard Narracci – Dilated Cardio-Myopathy

My name is Leonard Narracci, and I live in Venice, Florida. Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Dilated Cardio-Myopathy. I was always tired, listless, and completely lethargic. I underwent all the traditional cardiac testing, and the bottom line was that I would be on medication, Toprol and Atacand, Ace inhibitors and Beta Blockers, to maintain the status quo, but there was little hope of improving my cardiac condition.

Discovering Dr. Zannos Grekos

After 3 years of living like this, I told my wife that I could not continue to live like this, but that I had to search for a more viable option. I began my research to find a “better way”. I found Regenocyte and Dr. Zannos Grekos, right here in my backyard in Bonita Springs, Florida. I researched his Stem Cell Therapy treatment intensely. Then, I attended a seminar of his, which confirmed the action that I had to take to repair my heart. I made an appointment with him and underwent all the necessary testing to determine if I was a viable candidate. Fortunately, I was! I expressed the desire to have the treatment, and his office set everything in motion.

Treatment Abstract

The entire Regenocyte experience was nothing short of perfection, beginning with his very capable and competent assistant, Nancy Trombino. Nancy made all the necessary arrangements and reservations and provided me with an itinerary that explicitly told me where and when I had to be all at times during the treatment. I had 8 ounces of blood drawn, and a courier was waiting to transport the blood to Miami Airport to be flown to a bio-tech lab in Israel. My stem cells were extracted, genetically engineered for heart repair, and then replicated to 143,000,000 stem cells.

Experience as a patient

On October 7, 2008, my wife, my friend, and I left Miami Airport for the Dominican Republic. As soon as we deplaned, we were met by two Regenocyte agents, who were wonderful. They transported us to the Marriott Hotel, which was charming and very comfortable. The staff there made every effort to provide us with all that we needed. The Regenocyte agents catered to our every want and need, even providing me with a cell phone. All I had to do was press a single number and I could make contact with an agent at any time of the day or night.

Treatment Procedure

On October 8th. Dr. Grekos had also flown in to the Dominican republic to perform the procedure. The agent took us to the hospital where I was prepped for the procedure and then taken to the Catheterization Lab for the procedure. The procedure takes between an hour and an hour and a half. The procedure consisted of 2 parts. In the first, my arteries in my heart were each shut off for 3 minutes, while the stem cells were infused. In the second part, the stem cells were directly injected into the diseased walls of my heart.

Treatment Experience

I felt absolutely nothing, and was totally fascinated watching the entire procedure on the monitor. During the entire treatment, Dr. Grekos would check on me, and tell me that everything was proceeding perfectly.Upon completion of the treatment, I was taken to an ICU room to be monitored overnight.

Post treatment

The next morning, October 9th., I was discharged, and the agents took me back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the day, per Dr. Grekos’ orders. The next morning, October 10th. The Regenocyte agents took us to the airport, and before we knew it, we were back in Miami, and my wife and I were on our way back home to Venice, Florida. For the next few days, I just took it easy and rested.

7 Days Later -Improvement

Exactly 7 days after the treatment I was feeling a renewed engergy and sense of well-being that I had not experienced in three years.

2 Weeks Later -Ejection Fraction up from 20 to 28

Two weeks after the treatment, I had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Grekos. He was much more than pleased with the results he found. He did an Echogram, and the results were nothing short of remarkable. After only two weeks he found that my heart apex was normal, my heart had decreased in size and my ejection fraction had risen from 20 to 28. On November 25th.

7 Weeks Later – Ejection Fraction up from 28 – 33

I went back to Doctor Grekos’ office for more testing, 7 weeks after treatment. The Echogram showed the walls of my heart thickening, indicating that the stem cells were regenerating healthy heart muscle that previously was non-functional and not contracting. It was now contracting strongly, evidenced by the fact that my ejection fraction was now up to 33. I guess these results say it all, and I am looking forward to the progression of these results over the next several months.

3 Months Later – Ejection Fraction up from 33 – 45

The middle of January, I will have more heart tests for the 3 month follow-up and then again at 6 months and at 9 months. January 23rd. I had my important 3 month follow-up appointment with Dr. Grekos. The week before, I had the testing: EKG, ICG, Nuclear Stress Test, and Muga Scan. The tests revealed that the dimensions of my enlarged heart had decreased and that my Ejection Fraction had now increased from 33 to 45. This is especially significant in light of the fact that I am only 10 points away from 55 which is a normal Ejection Fraction.

My Opinion of Dr Grekkos

Other than Dr. Grekos, there is no other invasive cardiologist in the world who has done more to advance and effectively apply the principles of Adult Stem Cell Therapy. Even the typically sceptical medical community is beginning to acknowlege the efficacy of the treatment and the expertise of Dr. Grekos. I cannot help but show my enthusiasm for a procedure and a doctor who has given back to me a quality of life that I never thought I would see again.

My hope and prayer

My hope and prayer is that the medical community and the FDA will very soon come to the realization of the significance of this treatment and provide the necessary approval, so that patients do not have to continue to go out of the country.

The Explainer – WADA, the NFL and platelets

By Charles F. Pelkey
Senior Editor, Velo News


Dear Explainer,
There is something that I don’t understand following the recent reports that A-Rod tested positive for steroids. Why is Major League Baseball not required to conduct drug testing in accordance with the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency, given that baseball is an Olympic sport? It has been said many times in VeloNews and other publications that the UCI must test per WADA requirements in order to maintain IOC eligibility. Why the double standard?

On another note, did you catch the sideline reporter at the beginning of the Super Bowl talking about Pittsburgh player Hines Ward undergoing a “controversial” new treatment that consisted of removing some of his own blood, filtering the red blood cells and re-injecting those cells to treat his injured knee by increasing the oxygen supply? Sounds like blood doping to me!

Thanks for your column.
Steve Compton, PG
Arvada, Colorado

Dear Steve,
You’ve asked a question commonly raised not only about baseball, but also about basketball and hockey.

The quick answer is that unlike cycling, the Olympic-affiliated international governing bodies (IGBs) of baseball, basketball and hockey exercise absolutely no control over their respective sports’ top professional leagues. For obvious reasons — namely, that American football isn’t an Olympic sport — the NFL also doesn’t fall under the auspices of WADA.

So, football aside, what about these other sports? Take basketball, for example. Many of you might recall the “Dream Team” era, which saw top NBA stars joining forces to become the ultimate all-star basketball squad beginning in 1992, when professionals were first allowed into the Games. That 1992 roster included some serious star power, with Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippin, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, David Robinson, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordon among those playing for the U.S. in Barcelona. When they did that, they fell under the rules and regulations of USA Basketball.

But 1992 was pre-WADA and the transition was relatively seamless.

Most recently, the U.S. fielded a basketball team composed of some stellar players for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Stars like Kobe Bryan and LeBron James joined Team USA more than a year in advance and agreed to subject themselves to all of the rules and regulations of the IOC, including full compliance with WADA rules.

Baseball, on the other hand, has not really fielded a Dream Team equivalent. Team USA has included talented high school players, college athletes and some professionals, although not from the ranks of Major League Baseball. The U.S. national team does fall under the control of USA Baseball, which as a member of the IOC, must comply with all of that organization’s rules, including the anti-doping provisions of the WADA Code. (It is likely that IOC rules will continue to apply to members of that national team, despite the fact baseball will no longer be an Olympic sport, since any sport hoping for readmission to the Games has to have a record of IOC and WADA compliance.)

So who regulates doping in Major League Baseball? The anti-doping rules of Major League Baseball — and the NHL, NBA and NFL for that matter — are governed by the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. Anyone who has spent the time to sift through the “Report to the commissioner of baseball of an independent investigation into the illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing substances by players in Major League Baseball,” known more elegantly as the “Mitchell Report,” can see how ineffective those efforts have been.

Personally, I believe that baseball could learn a lot from cycling when it comes to doping — or, more appropriately, the efforts to control it. Think about it in the extreme for a moment. Applying the rules now used by the Tour de France, you could see an entire team eliminated from the playoffs, or even the World Series, if just one player tested positive.

Now to your second question. We’ve already established that the NFL has its own doping rules. You might believe those are really effective, if you also believe that 300-pound people can normally run a 4.4 40. But I digress.

PRP Therapy

Your question has to do with whether Mr. Ward’s re-injection of his blood — in this case known as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment — would be banned under WADA rules. My gut answer would be no, but the rules are unclear at this point. Given that the procedure is relatively new, the WADA Code and its listed of banned substances and prohibited practices does not specifically address PRP. What the code does address, though, is something known as Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), which is present in those platelets. What’s at issue — and remains unclear — is whether using your own IGF-1 constitutes a violation of WADA rules, as would using your own red blood cells. There is no suggestion that PRP increases the overall levels of IGF-1 in your system, but it does concentrate it at an injured area. It’s a good example of how the rules aren’t really keeping pace with developments in the field.

Anyone considering PRP would most certainly be advised to contact the World Anti-Doping Agency or its national affiliate to confirm that. In other words, if you’re an athlete required to comply with the WADA Code and considering PRP, you may need a lawyer as well as a doctor.

So what is PRP therapy and how does it differ from blood doping? As you know, blood is largely composed of red cells, white cells, plasma and platelets. Blood doping involves separating out the red cells from a given volume of blood and then re-injecting those into your system. Red blood cells transport oxygen and thus increase an athlete’s endurance. It’s called “autologous” blood doping if you use your own blood to do that and “homologous” if you use someone else’s. The effect is noticeable and immediate. One rather well-known cyclist reportedly had a baseline hematocrit — his natural level — of 41 or 42 percent and subsequently produced readings approaching the UCI’s upper limit of 50. You can imagine the performance benefits of such an increase.

But PRP therapy involves the isolation of platelets, those cytoplasmic bodies that allow the formation of blood clots. They have no impact on endurance, but studies indicate that they play a bigger role in the healing process than simply serving as a “net” to trap blood cells and form a clot. The theory behind PRP therapy is that injecting platelets into the tissue surrounding an injury — in Ward’s case, a tendon — they accelerate the healing process by delivering, as one proponent says, “a powerful cocktail of growth factors that can dramatically enhance tissue recovery.”

Others question the effectiveness of the treatment, and there will be more research to come. Meanwhile, NFL players and those not covered by the WADA Code can go out re-inject those platelets and not worry about violating the rules. For the rest, it may be a while before you hear a definitive answer.

PRP vs. Blood Doping


So what is PRP therapy and how does it differ from blood doping?

As you know, blood is largely composed of red cells, white cells, plasma and platelets. Blood doping involves separating out the red cells from a given volume of blood and then re-injecting those into your system. Red blood cells transport oxygen and thus increase an athlete’s endurance. It’s called “autologous” blood doping if you use your own blood to do that and “homologous” if you use someone else’s. The effect is noticeable and immediate. One rather well-known cyclist reportedly had a baseline hematocrit — his natural level — of 41 or 42 percent and subsequently produced readings approaching the UCI’s upper limit of 50. You can imagine the performance benefits of such an increase.

But PRP therapy involves the isolation of platelets, those cytoplasmic bodies that allow the formation of blood clots. They have no impact on endurance, but studies indicate that they play a bigger role in the healing process than simply serving as a “net” to trap blood cells and form a clot. The theory behind PRP therapy is that injecting platelets into the tissue surrounding an injury — in Ward’s case, a tendon — they accelerate the healing process by delivering, as one proponent says, “a powerful cocktail of growth factors and the stimulation of stem cell production that can dramatically enhance tissue recovery.”

blood-doping, by Maurice Chittenden — The next time Andy Murray suffers tennis elbow or Tiger Woods, the golfer, tears a ligament in his knee, help could be close at hand.

Scientists have discovered that injecting athletes with their own blood can speed recovery from a whole range of sporting injuries.

Their next step is to persuade the sporting authorities that the procedure – known as platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRPT) – does not amount to doping because your own blood cannot be counted as a banned substance if it is injected into tissue rather than into the bloodstream.

Two of the Pittsburgh Steelers American football team received the treatment before their team won the Super Bowl earlier this month. About 20 professional football players in America have also undergone the procedure, but it is banned in Britain at present.

PRPT dates back to the 1970s and has previously been used in orthopedic surgery in hospitals to help mend broken bones.

Sports doctors believe its use is so well tested that it could be deployed as a rapid healing trick for a number of sporting injuries without the need for surgery. The blood is withdrawn with a syringe, then spun in a centrifuge to isolate the body-healing platelets which are then injected into the damaged tissue.

Research has found that athletes who undergo the treatment report functional recovery in half the time expected.

In one study 15 of 20 patients with painful elbow tendinitis – the condition popularly known as tennis elbow – and contemplating surgery were given PRPT; the other five relied on anesthetic.

Two months later the patients receiving the therapy reported a 60% reduction in pain compared with only 16% for the others.

Bruce Hamilton, former chief medical officer of UK Athletics, who held a conference on its use in Qatar earlier this month, said: “It’s a very exciting area. The early studies are extremely positive and the basic science would certainly support its use, but in the extreme you could see how it could easily be used to regenerate muscle which is not really damaged.”

The World AntiDoping Agency (Wada) and the International Olympic Committee still need to be convinced. Both sent representatives to Qatar.

Chelsea football club has already requested its potential use on England players such as John Terry, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole but was told it could contravene strict controls on substances and illegally enhance performance.

“Blood doping” has long been a problem in professional cycling. If a cyclist takes blood it increases the oxygen in his bloodstream and makes muscles work better. Sports scientists advocating PRPT argue that this is not the case when injecting the blood into damaged tissue.

However, there is still concern that the reinjected platelets will contain insulin-like material which will count as a banned growth substance.

“We manage the annual prohibited list. Our experts have determined that blood-spinning is prohibited in cases where the method used is based on blood-processing leading to release of growth factors,” Wada said.

Its rules will not be relaxed in time to help Murray in his bid to win Wimbledon this year. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club said: “We follow the advice from Wada.”


The LA Times, by Karen Kaplan — Borrowing a biological cut-and-paste trick from bacteria, scientists have created the first personalized stem cells for patients that are free of the cancer-causing viruses and genes needed to make them, according to a study published today in the journal Cell.

The stem cells, derived from skin samples provided by five patients with Parkinson’s disease, were first transformed back to the undecided state of cells in an early embryo. Then they were used to make the dopamine-manufacturing neurons that are lost to disease.

The technique removes a key barrier to using a special class of stem cells called an induced pluripotent stem cell, or iPS cell, to create replacement parts for patients that could be transplanted without any risk of rejection — the ultimate goal of regenerative medicine.

“This is a major advance in the field,” said Dr. Marius Wernig, an assistant professor at the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, who wasn’t involved with the study.

The reprogramming of skin cells into iPS cells, which have the potential to become any type of cell in the body, is one of the hottest areas of biological research. The cells seem to offer all the benefits of embryonic stem cells without any of the ethical drawbacks. They are also ideally suited to making genetically matched tissues for patients, such as insulin-secreting islet cells for people with diabetes or brain tissue to treat stroke victims.

The reprogramming process requires that scientists turn on a handful of genes that are active during early embryonic development but dormant in normal skin cells. Most researchers rely on infecting the cells with viruses to do this job. But these viruses may also lead to cancer, as can some of the genes used for the reprogramming job.

Dr. Rudolf Jaenisch, a stem cell researcher at MIT and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., and his colleagues found a way to remove the viruses and genes once their work was done.

They engineered three viruses that contained the reprogramming genes — known as Klf, Sox2 and Oct4 — flanked by pieces of DNA called loxP sequences. After the skin cells were transformed into colonies of iPS cells, the scientists activated a protein that snipped out everything between the loxP sequences.

The technique is commonly used to modify the DNA in cells, and Jaenisch decided to try it with iPS cells.

“We borrowed it from bacteria,” said Jaenisch, the study’s senior author. “Bacteria need it for certain genetic manipulations.”

Dr. Andras Nagy, a stem cell researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, compared the approach to using detachable solid rocket boosters to propel the space shuttle into orbit.

“The [reprogramming] genes are the rocket,” he said. “When they are no longer needed — in fact, it’s very dangerous to have them around — they have to be removed.”

Nagy’s research group is perfecting a related method to make iPS cells that do not use viruses but rely on DNA sequences called transposons. After the reprogramming is complete, the transposons can be deleted by an enzyme.

Nagy and his colleagues described their technique this week in the journal Nature, and they are now applying it to adult human cells.

Jaenisch has already validated his procedure by reprogramming cells taken from Parkinson’s patients and turning them into replacement neurons, but several technical issues must be resolved before it would be safe to use the cells therapeutically, he said.

The iPS cells will have an immediate benefit by enabling researchers to study Parkinson’s, a degenerative neurological disorder that affects 1.5 million Americans and for which there is no cure. Because the malfunctioning neurons are trapped inside patients’ brains, researchers can’t use them to study how the disease progresses at the molecular level or what drugs might halt the cellular damage.

“Now they have a system where they can study the actual disease that afflicts these five patients,” said Bill Lowry, who studies iPS cells at UCLA’s Broad Stem Cell Research Center and who was not involved in the study. “They can see how cells grow and differentiate, and begin to test hypotheses.”