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August 27, 2013

Beekmantown man earns $450,000 grant for research

PLATTSBURGH — The future of medicine may easily lie in research being conducted by people like Beekmantown Central School graduate Kelsey Moody.

Moody, who followed up his high-school career as a 2010 graduate from Plattsburgh State, is currently in his second year as a medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

But Moody is also involved in some exciting research that may one day help improve the treatment of such conditions as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

“The medical establishment has become very effective at treating infectious disease, with developing vaccines, antibiotics and other successful treatment measures,” Moody said from Syracuse recently.

“But when it comes to chronic disease and particularly diseases of old age, we haven’t observed the same improvement in patient outcomes. I believe we need to consider fundamentally new approaches that may more adequately address the dynamic nature and complexity of these diseases.”

One such direction involves cell therapy, the process of introducing new cells into tissue to treat disease, Moody said.

“Traditionally, diseases have been treated by ‘one-size-fits-all’ small-molecule drugs, but I believe medicine is entering a stage where it can and will do better,” he said.

Small-molecule prescription drugs are made in huge quantities by a chemical process and typically involve the unwelcome inclusion of side effects, but Moody believes drugs created through cell therapy will respond to a disease in a much more predictable manner.

“When you administer a chemical (in small-molecule drugs) to a patient in high concentrations, it is often difficult to predict how the patient will react. There may be all manner of unexpected side effects from the treatment,” Moody said.

“For example, Viagra was originally intended to treat heart disease. It performed poorly in a clinical setting. Many cell-based therapies are actually safer and more effective than standard treatment options.”

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