Weekend Wonderings: Anniversary Edition

Written May 18th, 2014 by Ken

thru_looking_glassWelcome to this week’s edition of Weekend Wonderings. Grab whatever beverage that you need and let’s proceed. My Lovely Bride and I will. You can be sure of that. This coming week we’ll be taking a couple days off to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  As I tell her, it’s been the best 25 (26 if you count courtship) years of my life. To no one’s surprise, we both agree on that sentiment.

The James/Wexner:

This is of some interest: researchers at the James have genetically modified immune cells (T-cells) that hunt down and kill cancer cells, multiple myeloma, in this case, themselves a product of genetic “modification”.  Below are the quick hitters.

A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) provides evidence that genetically modifying immune cells might effectively treat multiple myeloma, a disease that remains incurable and will account for an estimated 24,000 new cases and 11,100 deaths in 2014.

The researchers modified a type of human immune cell – called T lymphocytes, or T cells – to target a molecule called CS1, which is found on more than 95 percent of myeloma cells, and to kill the cells. The researchers grew the modified cells in the lab to increase their numbers and then injected them into an animal model where they again killed human myeloma cells.

A couple things here. With a mortality/new case ratio of around 46%, multiple myeloma (MM) is not a trifling disease. With life expectancy at diagnosis  ranging from 5-8 years, it’ll get you sooner or later, probably sooner. The offset is if these T cells can get to the 95% of MM cells and kill them, this is a huge step in therapy.

“An important possible advantage to this approach is that these therapeutic T cells have the potential to replicate in the body, and therefore they might suppress tumor growth and prevent relapse for a prolonged period,” Yu says.

If these genetically modified T cells can self replicate in the human body, this has the potential to move other therapies (bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy, radiation, etc. off to the wings. A therapy with a high efficacy and minimal/no side effects is certainly worth pursuing.

Here are the study’s key findings:

- Compared to control T cells, the modified T cells better recognized multiple myeloma cells that overexpressed CS1, and they became more activated following the recognition;
- The researchers successfully modified fresh T cells from patients and showed that the cells can be grown (expanded) in the lab, and that they efficiently recognized and eradicated myeloma cells;
- In animal models, the modified T cells greatly reduced the tumor burden and prolonged overall survival: All mice that received the modified T cells were alive 44 days after treatment versus 29 percent and 17 percent of the study’s two control groups.

The last finding, with my emphasis is a big one. At the 44 day mark, all (as in 100%) of the modified group of mice were still alive, versus the two control groups survival rate of 29% and 17%. That is a pretty significant difference.


This was one of those weeks where I was a bit ‘writer blockish’ with coming up with a topic. However, true to form, by brothers-in-arms came to my rescue. When I hit a funk, I can usually depend upon Jason or WVa, in this case, to come up with something that gets me off-center.

No, it’s not about the draft. I hold people who get worked up about the NFL draft in the same regard as those who get worked up on where 18 year old boys decide to play college football. Although, not in defense of the Browns, but I had no issue with their trading around with Watkins coming to Buffalo and Manziel coming to Cleveland. The Browns really need a QB to utilize Watkins, which they may/may not have at this point. The Bills sort of have a QB in EJ Manual, and certainly have potential waiting with the UDFA signing of His Smoothness, Kenny Guiton.

Moving on, evidently there was some chatter over the weekend about the the drafting of Michael Sam, as alluded to in WVa’s RSB article on Thursday, see above link.  I’ll veer a bit from WVa on this and “take a stand”, although if you carefully read WVa’s article, he implicitly does take a stand.

My stand is, “So, what?”  What do you really care about how Michael Sam leads his life and his specific life choices? If you are using specific documents to criticize this lifestyle choice, I can refer to the documents to support this lifestyle choice. Folks, life is way too short to get worked up over someone’s life if you don’t agree with that person’s choices. If you are going to worry about something, at least make it significant and worthwhile. Fans need to get a grip on life. It’s terrible that “someone like” Sam is drafted, yet some of have no issue with misogynists, users (drug & alcohol) and thugs suiting up? That’s screwed up.

My dad had a great saying, “Folks are the same as people.” I think that WVa is running akin to that with his closing thought of “To each his own”.

Sunday’s Song:

No question, I have to go with Christine McVie and Songbird.

Oh, what the heck. It’s a special week; here’s Roy Orbison (and friends) with Pretty Woman.

Happy Anniversary, honey.


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