Dr. Richard Burt  – Reprogrammer of broken memories, continuing lives for many

(June 2011) As a Fellow working at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Dr. Richard Burt noticed that the leukemia patients he was helping treat needed to be “re-vaccinated” because the protection from childhood diseases like the measles and mumps was being lost.  The cells impacted by transfusion treatments were losing the “memory” of these original childhood vaccinations.

“Maybe,” thought Dr. Burt, “if we could get bad, diseased cells to lose their memory, we could reprogram them with ‘good’ memories and help patients with autoimmune diseases.” This reprogramming would depend on adult stem cells—tiny building blocks found in the body–if it was going to work.

He first tried out his idea on animals in the research lab and—it worked!  Not long afterwards the FDA gave its approval for the adult stem cell therapy to be used on people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, and again, it worked.  Now, 14 years later, Burt and his team of researchers at Northwestern University are using this technique to help treat patients suffering from some 23 different diseases.

“It’s also (adult stem cell therapy) ongoing in centers around the world,” says Dr. Burt.  “So it’s turned out to be very rewarding.  Very rewarding to see people coming back and see how much they’ve improved.  And very rewarding that other centers are doing it.  There’s an old adage that success has many fathers, failures and orphans.  So the very fact that this is now being done around the world–in South America, Asia, Europe, and here in America–it just means that I’ve helped, in some small way, to change this world.”

You’ll get no argument from people like Amy Daniels of Milwaukee.  Amy was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called systemic scleroderma, an often fatal, always painful disease known as the disease that turns people into stone.  Thanks to Dr. Burt’s groundbreaking adult stem cell treatment, today Amy lives a normal, healthy life with her husband and two daughters.

Or Barry Goudy of Detroit, a man diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. Before his adult stem cell treatment, Barry could barely walk.  Today he is a healthy, active husband and father who coaches hockey and lives life to the fullest.

Or Jill Rosen, a young woman from Chicago diagnosed with a disease called Systemic Lupus, which negatively impacts many different body systems, including joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, heart, and lungs.  Jill became a patient of Dr. Burt’s, underwent adult stem cell therapy, and today lives a healthy, happy life, free of all symptoms of Lupus.

With dozens of published studies and numerous accolades from the news media to his credit, Dr. Burt might be tempted to rest on his laurels and enjoy the fruits of success.  But like every researcher, not everything is a success.  Sometimes the symptoms of a condition come back. There are—to put it bluntly—failures along the way.

“You definitely can learn as much from the failures as you do success,” explains Dr. Burt. “Although you never want failure, that’s a part of life.  It’s being able to recognize what’s happened, be honest with it and say, this part didn’t work.  And then ask, why not?  That’s what happens when you open a new door.  For me, that’s what life is about.  It’s opening new doors that in a way can make a small change in this world that helps people.  That’s what I want to continue doing.”

Like every scientific advance, it all starts with an idea.  For Dr. Richard Burt and his team of researchers at Northwestern University, those ideas and the use of adult stem cells are changing the world, one patient at a time.  To contact Dr. Burt visit his web page.

 Additional Links to News Reports concerning Dr. Burt’s work:

NBC News Report

The Telegraph

ABC News Report-Type 1 Diabetes