Ted Harada is living his second miracle right now, savoring every minute of every hour of it for as long as it lasts. His strength is back up, there’s a spring in his step, he’s got a strong grip back in his hands, and the symptoms of his ALS once again are in retreat to the ongoing surprise of his doctors and to the delight of his family.
“The first time, it’s easy to say it was an outlier. Luck. But I’ve been helped twice. Twice, and you can throw luck out the window. They’ve got to figure out, now, what’s going on with me,” he says. “We’ve got to turn Lou Gehrig’s disease into Lou Gehrig’s chronic illness.”
Some background: I interviewed Harada by phone in early October for a package of stories Crain’s ran Oct. 29 about successful Phase 1 human trials that University of Michigan and Emory University physicians and researchers had recently concluded in Atlanta, injecting stem cells into the spinal column of ALS patients.
Because Phase 1 trials are designed to test safety before any approval from the Food and Drug Administration to move on to Phase 2 trials, which test efficacy, researchers are cautious. They generally decline much comment for fear about running afoul of the bureaucrats.
Having lost a family friend (not sure if he was even 50 yet!) to ALS, this interests me considerably. All the same, I hesitated to post this, since it is very preliminary, and the results of the therapy seem to vary extremely, from nothing to near-miraculous. So I see both the prospects of incredible hope and severe disappointment.