For A Fleeting Moment I Thought I Saw Land...
but it seems it was a mirage. I called PAWS Atlanta today and followed up on the material I'd sent them and asked if the vets they had said might do something like this on Carmella several weeks ago had given them any indication of where they stood. The woman answering the phone thought she'd just given me the name and number of one and did not remember the other. She seemed less enthusiastic today, and said she'd just forwarded it on to their vet but had gotten no response. That seems to be many of the vets' modus operandi lately; no response.
The receptionist gave me the name and number of a vet who used to work for them, another one like Dr. Brantly who did holistic treatment, and she said that maybe he'd be open-minded enough to do it, although she had no idea if he had done spinal taps before.
I took that information and called. An answering machine picked up my message and so I asked if he'd call me back as soon as possible, trying to get as much detail in as possible. His office manager, Carmen, returned my call and then she had him call me. He seemed nice, and actually sounded alot like Dr. Norwood, and he too practiced in the Stone Mountain area. Things sounded good as we were talking, but then he said he used to do spinal taps but hadn't done one in years.
He talked about his muscle-testing and dietary techniques and explained that his were not published in journals either, took Dr. Sears' information, and did sound genuinely interested in the fact that this might be a complete cure (even his techniques could not claim that complete a solution to Distemper), but he said, just as I thought, that probably the reason Dr. Sears could not get published is that alot of drug companies have a financial interest in never letting a true cure see the light of day.
Interestingly, he also said that probably the reason that the most qualified and highly-credentialed vets to do this procedure won't do it is because they are also the most regulated. He's probably right, but that's a real catch 22. If the vets who have the best chance of pulling this off are too afraid of liability then how does the field get past that hurdle in order to introduce any new discovery?
If in order to fly under the radar and become published a new discovery must:
1) Be non-threatening enough to a major percentage of the dominant market share in that category
2) Be interesting and useful enough not to be too redundant or boring to be attractive to the populace
That leaves a very narrow margin. Sure, it could be marketed as a treatment and not a cure (to have it pass the first unofficial requirement), but then it risks being lumped in with lots of other not so legitimate claims that don't work as well, and it would then fall into the wastebasket category of "supportive care".
Not only would that not be accurate, but it could cause it not to pass that second category, and the argument could be made that there are already things out there to help a dog "live comfortably" with the disease for a period of time, plus that those established methods are less invasive.
Taking that tactic could get it squashed before it gets half-way in the door. No, I think the best way to get this on the map is to approach it through Merial, the drug company that manufactures Newcastle Disease Virus Vaccine (the LaSota strain), and to justify it by saying, " Let's be real. Distemper vaccines to prevent the disease only cover so many dogs and there is no realistic way to prevent all cases of Distemper any more than we can completely eradicate all teen pregnancy. We can do all the education and public service messages we want, but all owners will not vaccinate their dogs 100% of the time, and not all vaccinations even work on all dogs. If you really want to stamp out this disease completely it will require a two-pronged approach; direct Distemper vaccination as a preventative measure, and curative vaccination with NDV to treat infected animals. If the number of infected dogs isn't enough to justify it (although I am pretty sure those statistics are highly under-representative) then there are raccoons bringing it into residential areas, foxes, and ferrets, all of which could be candidates for this drug. NDV could be marketed in the wildlife industry as well as used on domestic animals and used by conservation organizations that are currently funded to save species, and by scientists interested in studying natural habitats. Each dose may be very inexpensive, but when you look at using it on that scale, the potential demand/market for such an effective cure begins to look alot more lucrative."
Venus, who's dog was featured on my blog just a few weeks ago wrote me today and she mentioned a Phillipino vet, Dr. Loubinar, who is quite well-respected, and who has a special interest in studying Distemper. She said he has treated 30 dogs there in his country with NDV; at least some of them with the NDV injection into the spinal canal! I posed to her the suggestion that he be the one to lead the way in the veterinary field towards getting a clinical trial funded, that he approach Merial with a proposal, and then publish the findings. I asked her if she had his e-mail address and said that I would do whatever I could to help him connect with Merial (which is based right here in Georgia). If this guy has an interest in Distemper then he would be the perfect one to put in such a proposal. If that's what it will take to get Carmella treated and to stop more dogs from dying, then so be it. There is no rule that says there can't be multiple study sites around the world either. It is not uncommon to do a clinical trial with relatively few subjects into several locations. I've seen studies with 3 sites, each in a different country, and only 5 subjects in each, and those were published! That means that if he were to write the proposal he could have a number of collaborators including some here in the US. His name would come first on the paper but there are often as many as 20 principle investigators on one paper, and they can collaborate on the first and final drafts by e-mail and/or conference call!
With my media blitz underway there may be vets that news reaches who like this idea and would welcome the opportunity to participate if someone else were to submit the proposal.
Carmella is still falling and her restlessness is evident, but she's trying to hang in there. She was so cute today, despite her difficulties. I have been tempted to let her sleep in my bed at night but I'm afraid I'd wake up with no sheets and a room full of stuffing strewn all over the floor; remnants of my comforter.
I'm really looking forward to hearing back from these TV stations and the Journal and Constitution and seeing what shakes out of the bushes.
In the meantime if you'd like to help Carmella, please use the donation button at the upper right of my blog, purchase some great art jewelry from my Etsy shop, or buy an ad underneath the list of "Top Spots".