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Jerusalem - Potentially Groundbreaking ALS Research Benefits Ailing Rosh Yeshiva

Published on: July 11, 2012 10:07 AM
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Channel 2 News shows incredible progress by Rabbi Rafael ShmuelevitzChannel 2 News shows incredible progress by Rabbi Rafael Shmuelevitz

Jerusalem - A clinical trial currently underway in Jerusalem may offer a glimmer of hope to patients suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, an incurable, fatal, neurological ailment whose victims suffer from a progressive inability to control the muscles needed for movement, speech, eating and breathing.

A group of twenty four patients are taking part in the trial, which is taking place at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center.  Using an experimental treatment developed by a Petach Tikvah based biotechnology company called BrainStorm, stem cells taken from the patient’s bone marrow are grown and strengthened in a laboratory setting before being reinserted into the patient’s spinal cord.  While the clinical trial is in its earliest stages and is only designed to test the safety and tolerability of the treatments, not its effectiveness, the results have been promising, with patients once confined to wheelchairs regaining the ability to walk on their own.

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Footage released by Israel’s Channel 2 News shows incredible progress by Rabbi Rafael Shmuelevitz, Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir, who suffers from both ALS and Myasthenia Gravis and as a result was both wheelchair bound and unable to speak clearly.  Diagnosed just four months ago by doctors at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic and told that his life expectancy was just two to four years, Rabbi Shmuelevitz was deemed by BrainStorm to be a “compassionate case” and began receiving a form of the experimental treatments just one month ago.  Video footage shows Rabbi Shmuelevitz walking the halls in Hadassah Hospital and speaking intelligibly with doctors and reporters.

While BrainStorm representatives were quick to point out that Rabbi Shmuelevitz is not a typical ALS patient and no conclusions can be drawn based on his improvements,  Professor Dmitrios Karussis, head of both Hadassah’s Multiple Sclerosis Center and the clinical trial, told Channel 2 News that Rabbi Shmuelevitz’s response to the treatment exceeded his expectations and that he believes that they are in the early stages of a potential breakthrough in the treatment of ALS.

As the clinical trials continue in Israel, plans are underway for a similar trial to take place in the United States.

“We are hoping to begin a Phase II clinical trial with ALS patients in the Boston area towards the end of 2012,” Cheryl Singer of BrainStorm told VIN News.  “For this trial, it is likely that a larger number of patients will be recruited. We are currently awaiting FDA approval to go ahead with this study.”

Currently, the only known effective treatment for ALS is the drug Riluzole which improves patient survival rates by just a few months and does nothing to reverse the degenerative damage to the motor neurons caused by the disease.


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1

 Jul 11, 2012 at 10:30 AM Anonymous Says:

Hopefully this is just the begining of the end to a most misrable aliment which for most victims is a living death. May HaShem continue to give the researchers and Doctors the knowledge to overcome this dreadful disease.

2

 Jul 11, 2012 at 10:34 AM Anonymous Says:

Once again Israel leads the world in science and research. Clearly disproportionate to the size of the country and length of its modern existence. Where are our barbaric arab neighbors with their trillions of oil wealth, still driving camels for the most part.

3

 Jul 11, 2012 at 10:47 AM Those Worthless Lazy Charedim Says:

BrainStorm is owned by a charedi entrepreneur, a Lubavitcher of "haimish" origins who is a nephew of the Monsey Nikolsburger Rebbe and therefore also a first cousin of the "Pester Rov" (badchan).

4

 Jul 11, 2012 at 10:54 AM Gershon Says:

I just read this in this weeks Mishpacha. Nice story

5

 Jul 11, 2012 at 11:01 AM OberBoberGrober Says:

I was very thrilled to see actually a Charedi was the CEO of Brainstorm, kol hakavod! and I thank Hashem for enabling us to find a path to cure this deadly disease which i wouldn't even wish for my worst enemy.

7

 Jul 11, 2012 at 11:51 AM BLONDI Says:

is the research just to help als or also for ms patients; like i read in a previous report? and how long would it take for the fda in the usa to approve it all???

8

 Jul 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM honestbroker Says:

Reply to #3  
Those Worthless Lazy Charedim Says:

BrainStorm is owned by a charedi entrepreneur, a Lubavitcher of "haimish" origins who is a nephew of the Monsey Nikolsburger Rebbe and therefore also a first cousin of the "Pester Rov" (badchan).

That would be, "Pester Rebbe, Shlita."
Laughter is the best medicine, but we are impressed with the achievements of the Rebbe's cousin also.

9

 Jul 11, 2012 at 02:18 PM AlbertEinstein Says:

...and it's a good thing that the CEO of the company that invented this treatment WAS born into a chareidi chasiddishe family.

Generalizations are always flawed.

10

 Jul 11, 2012 at 02:34 PM Erlich Says:

Prof. Dmitrios Karussis sounds like the name of a Greek non-Jew. Kol HaKavod.

11

 Jul 11, 2012 at 03:45 PM MistahKurtz Says:

Reply to #9  
AlbertEinstein Says:

...and it's a good thing that the CEO of the company that invented this treatment WAS born into a chareidi chasiddishe family.

Generalizations are always flawed.

Granted. My mistake. I ask you, however, is it not true that the likelihood of a person from a chareidi, yeshivish or chassidishe, family going into the sciences is much lower than that of a similarly inclined person from a non-chareidi family?

12

 Jul 11, 2012 at 04:55 PM njmom Says:

Reply to #7  
BLONDI Says:

is the research just to help als or also for ms patients; like i read in a previous report? and how long would it take for the fda in the usa to approve it all???

they are going to be arranging clinical trials in the usa with Massachusetts general hospital. you should start looking over there if you want more information.

13

 Jul 11, 2012 at 05:17 PM Those Worthless Lazy Charedim Says:

This is a harbinger of the future if more haredim enter the workplace in EY as we do in the rest of the world. The haredim will be the men who figure out how to finance and bring to life the work of secular scientists, just as haredim do now with the work of secular and (overwhelmingly) non-Jewish jewelry and clothing designers.

Note, however, that the baal habayis is very American and is not spoiled by the fouled-up system in EY.

14

 Jul 11, 2012 at 05:24 PM 10010 Says:

Reply to #10  
Erlich Says:

Prof. Dmitrios Karussis sounds like the name of a Greek non-Jew. Kol HaKavod.

Funny: I thought I had seen him regularly davening at 770.

15

 Jul 11, 2012 at 05:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
MistahKurtz Says:

Granted. My mistake. I ask you, however, is it not true that the likelihood of a person from a chareidi, yeshivish or chassidishe, family going into the sciences is much lower than that of a similarly inclined person from a non-chareidi family?

No. Quite the opposite. As this story shows.

There is only one of this company and it is leading the field in ALS treatment and is lead by a member of a class you look down upon. It is quite obvious how inaccurate your presumptions are.

An accurate comment would be to say how inaccurate the presumptions of the anti chareidim are. As has been proven by your comment and so many other commenters here. And by other cynical "centrist" and left wing bloggers who try to come up with explanations as there "theorems" are disproven time and again.

16

 Jul 12, 2012 at 09:40 AM Avreich1 Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

No. Quite the opposite. As this story shows.

There is only one of this company and it is leading the field in ALS treatment and is lead by a member of a class you look down upon. It is quite obvious how inaccurate your presumptions are.

An accurate comment would be to say how inaccurate the presumptions of the anti chareidim are. As has been proven by your comment and so many other commenters here. And by other cynical "centrist" and left wing bloggers who try to come up with explanations as there "theorems" are disproven time and again.

The word you wanted is "theories", #15. Theorems are something else entirely.

17

 Aug 14, 2012 at 10:50 AM Anonymous Says:

I'm happy for this Rebbe, but scientifically it's not enough to conclude about the benefit of MSC in curing neurodegenerative diseases like ALS. How many patients received this treatment ?? And how many patients got improvement after receiving injection of MSC???? I'm sure less than 1%..... We cannot give too much hope to these patients and we cannot conclude so fast.......Please do think scientifically.....
I'm very happy for patients who got improvement ....but think to people who got cells and are always in such bad conditions....TODA

18

 Aug 14, 2012 at 10:57 AM Anonymous Says:

You should learn Thora and wil see that science and thora are compatible, people who learn thora are opened-mind, not like you........

19

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