Home > Uncategorized > The great stem cell dilemma – Fortune Tech

The great stem cell dilemma – Fortune Tech

FORTUNE — Imagine yourself the proud but rueful owner of an ancient Jaguar. Every day you dread the uncertainty that comes with trying to get from here to there — there, more often than not, being the shop. No sooner does one ailment find repair than another appears. At best, it’s a slow, uncomfortable ride. Lonely too. There’s really no one around who fully understands your plight.

That is how Patricia Riley describes life in a 95-year-old body. Riley, who reached that milestone birthday last St. Patrick’s Day, lives alone in the same 1,100-square-foot house in Plainfield, Conn., that she’s called home for 64 years, having survived her husband (heart disease), a daughter (breast cancer), and every friend she ever had. “All the people I knew have all gone, Jeffrey,” she says in a quivering voice laced with melancholy. “They’ve all died. I go to church and I never see people my age.” Her remaining family includes two daughters, five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, including my two young sons. In a nod to her French-Canadian heritage, we call her Méme.

Méme attributes her longevity to good genes, but she clearly owes a debt to modern medicine. Over the years she’s had a cholecystectomy, a hysterectomy, esophageal surgery, a stroke, and ulcerative colitis. Lately she relies on a cane and a walker, and her daily regimen includes pain pills for arthritis, two inhalers for asthma, high-blood-pressure meds, a statin, vitamins, digestion aids, and an anti-anxiety drug that she calls “my nerve pill.” Her vision also comes courtesy of medical science. Three years ago Méme was diagnosed with a form of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, a disease of the back of the retina that is the leading cause of vision loss in the developed world. The ophthalmologist gave her a choice: a needle into her eyeballs every six weeks, or blindness. Méme opted for the injections and now receives shots of an off-label cancer drug called Avastin, which has demonstrated efficacy in halting the progress of her type of AMD. Holding the ailment at bay is all she can hope for. “I’ll have to go for as long as I live,” she says. “It’s just a treatment — it’s not a cure.”

via The great stem cell dilemma – Fortune Tech.

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