UCLA researchers seek patients for heart study

LOS ANGELES - UCLA researchers are seeking patients who have coronary artery disease and severe chest pain to volunteer for a Phase III, double-blinded study that will use the patients' own blood-derived stem cells to try to restore blood circulation to their damaged hearts.This is one of the first stem cell studies for cardiac patients and it's for an unusual group, those who are either unable to receive traditional therapy or have already received traditional therapy that did not work, said Dr. Ali Nsair, an assistant professor in residence of cardiology and co-principal investigator for the study. "We're hoping to offer patients who have no other options a treatment that will alleviate their severe chest pain and improve their quality of life," Nsair said. Prior to receiving the direct injections of the stem cells into their hearts, researchers will first map the heart to study both the voltage and motion of the muscle. Damaged areas will not have as high voltage and movement as the undamaged areas," said Dr. Jonathan Tobis, a clinical professor of cardiology and co-principal investigator for the study. "We will be able to tell by the voltage levels and motion which area of the muscle is scarred or abnormal and not getting enough blood and oxygen," Tobias said. "Then we can target the injections to the areas just adjacent to the scarred and abnormal heart muscle to try to restore some of the blood flow." In the study, a patient's blood will be taken and CD34+ cells will be isolated from the rest of the blood. These cells will then be expanded and injected into the patient's heart using a catheter inserted into a groin artery and targeted to the damaged areas indicated by the mapping technique. CD34+ cells are pluripotent, meaning they have the capability to turn into other cells. Tobis and Nsair hope these cells will either become new and healthy heart muscle cells or, more likely, the cells will stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, a process called angiogenesis. Those new vessels could provide better blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle areas adjacent to the scarred and abnormal tissue. The multi-center study seeks to enroll more than 440 patients nationwide. Earlier phase studies have shown the treatment is safe and patients in previous studies have reported some relief from their chest pain. Because the study is double-blinded, neither the patients nor the researchers will know who is getting the stem cell injection and who is receiving a placebo. The three-armed study will have the double-blinded group of 222 volunteers who will receive the stem cells, 111 volunteers who will be given a placebo and 111 patients who will be treated according to the current standard of care. Patients will be followed for five years. To qualify for this study, patients must have tried all possible conventional treatments and medications to treat their chest pain and still continue to be symptomatic. For more information about participating in this study at UCLA, call (310) 794-4797. Tobis said another stem cell study is being planned at UCLA for patients immediately after suffering a heart attack. Patients who are candidates will be identified within four days after the heart attack and will have their stem cells harvested and injected into their hearts within 11 days to decrease the amount of damage to the heart. This study, alto a multi-center study, will be launching at UCLA over the next couple of months.

********** Published: February 28, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 46

Speed limit on Florence increased

DOWNEY - The City Council this week agreed with a traffic survey's recommendation that the speed limit on Florence Avenue be increased to 45 MPH between Woodruff Avenue and the 605 Freeway.Drivers were previously maxed at 40 MPH. The traffic survey was completed Dec. 6 - as required by the California Vehicle Code - and found that the conditions warranted an increase in speed. Members of the city's Public Works Committee agreed and forwarded their recommendation to the City Council. Surveys are required by the state in order for cities to enforce posted speed limits. The speed limit will remain 25 MPH outside East Middle School when children are present.

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Police to build training room

DOWNEY - The Downey Police Department has revealed plans to construct an on-site training room, which it says will cut down on the need for officers to travel to outside locations for tactical and firearm training.The training room will include an interactive training simulator that imitates real world events. It will be located at the north end of the department's sally-port garage. To make room, an interior masonry closet wall will be demolished and a steel door and frame removed. A contractor will also install a new T-bar ceiling and impact-resistant drywall, paint and install floor covering, and do minor electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning work. Construction is expected to cost $100,000, not including an additional $85,000 for the training simulator. It will be paid for using asset forfeiture funds, which is money and property seized by officers during drug-related arrests.

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Children's Hospital of Los Angeles

In January, San Antonio Guild members Christie Cabrajac and Donna Pemberton visited Children's Hospital of Los Angeles to take snacks and other goodies to the nurses who work the pediatric oncology department. "Our Caregivers Project is just one of the rewarding activities we do in the San Antonio Guild," the club said. "We are currently looking for women who would like to become members and get involved in making this year's events more memorable and successful than the last." For more information on joining the San Antonio Guild, call Debbie Bell at (562) 776-8229. ********** Published: February 28, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 46

Vichot signs with APU

DOWNEY - The Warren High School faculty, staff and football program are proud to announce that standout left tackle Ricky Vichot has signed his letter of intent to play college football at Division II Azusa Pacific University.Ricky signed his letter of intent on Feb. 6. Vichot has been a three-year letterman for the Bears. The past two seasons Vichot has been a first-team All-S.G.V.L. selection for his outstanding play. Vichot was also selected as Warren's Most Valuable Lineman for the past two seasons. Ricky will study kinesiology/sports therapy as a student-athlete at APU. Congratulations and good luck to Ricky Vichot.

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Downey AYSO

Downey AYSO held its annual Kick-Off Classic this past weekend, hosting teams from throughout California. Downey's 16u girls team won the tournament, beating reigning state champion Montebello in the finals.

Downey beat Upland, North Torrance and Valencia to advance to the finals. They tied Montebello, 0-0, in regulation before earning the victory in PKs.

Coached by Jorge Ramirez, the team includes Leslie, Miranda, Rebecca, Natalie, Destiny, Elvia, Theresa, Nadaline, Aileen, Sabrina, Dominique, Natalia, Brittany, Caitlin, Julissa, Juliza, Gia and Alexis. Not pictured is Coach Win.

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Former police officer admits to sex with minors

LONG BEACH - A former Long Beach police officer pleaded guilty last week to sex crimes involving minor girls and was immediately sentenced to 11 years and eight months in state prison.Noe Yanez, 40, pleaded to six counts during a preliminary hearing of the evidence against him, said deputy district attorney Natalie Adomian. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen, who was conducting the preliminary hearing, also ordered that Yanez register as a sex offender. The former office, who was fired by the Long Beach Police Department last June, pleaded to felony crimes that spanned 2008 until shortly before he was charged in May 2012. Adomian said Yanez pleaded guilty to one count each of forcible rape, meeting a minor for lewd purposes, using a minor for sex acts, possession of child pornography and two counts of false imprisonment by fraud or deceit. Five victims were involved. Yanez, who had been with Long Beach PD for nine years, originally was arrested on April 19, 2012, then rearrested on May 9 after a felony complaint for arrest warrant was filed by the District Attorney's office. He was suspended without pay, then his employment was terminated in June 2012. The Long Beach Police Department investigated the case.

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5 Freeway closing overnight

NORWALK - The 5 Freeway will be completely closed overnight March 3-6 as Caltrans continues work to widen the freeway.The freeway will be closed southbound from Rosecrans Avenue to Carmenita Road. Up to two northbound lanes will also close. The southbound 605 connector to the 5 south, and the 91 connector to the 5 north, are also scheduled to close.

********** Published: February 28, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 46

Ruelas completes basic training

DOWNEY - Army Pfc. Jonathan Ruelas has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.During the nine weeks of training, Ruelas studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches and field training exercises. He is the son of Paul and Carolina Kim, of Downey, and graduated from Bellflower High School in 2009.

********** Published: February 28, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 46

Downey woman recognized for saving stranger's life

DOWNEY - Downey resident Kelly Navarro, credited with saving the life of a stranger who had gone into shock after an allergic reaction, was honored at Tuesday's City Council meeting.Navarro was driving near Lakewood Boulevard and Gallatin Road on Jan. 17 when she spotted a woman sprawled on the sidewalk, waving for help. Dozens of cars drove by without stopping, but Navarro parked to check on the woman, who was going into anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction. Navarro called 911 and comforted the woman until paramedics arrived. Doctors who treated the woman said she likely would have died if treatment was delayed only a few minutes longer. For her efforts, Navarro was presented the Diakonia Award by Mayor Mario Guerra. The award recognizes residents who perform random acts of kindness and go out of their way to improve the community. "Ms. Navarro's actions are truly remarkable and worth recognizing," Guerra said. "She went out of her way to help someone who she knew nothing about and her quick action undoubtedly saved the person's life. "I want to sincerely thank her for her willingness to help others."

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Past presidents of the OLPH Guild

Past presidents of the OLPH Guild - Joyce Prokop, Bette Lloyd and Charlene McCluskey - announce the guild's St. Patrick's Day champagne luncheon March 16 to honor its past presidents. It will take place at 11 a.m. at the Rio Hondo Event Center. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by writing to Linda Malme, 9260 Gainford St., Downey CA 90240. Checks should be made payable to Catholic Women's Guild and indicate a preference for chicken piccata or salmon on the check's memo line. Deadline is March 11. ********** Published: February 28, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 46

Ellen Ochoa Learning Center

Downey's Columbia Astronomers Club are pictured above setting up for an astronomy outreach event recently at the Ellen Ochoa Learning Center in Cudahy. Three hundred people attended and enjoyed the night sky. ********** Published: February 28, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 46

Coach accused of molesting girl agrees to plea deal

BELLFLOWER - A former Bellflower High School track and girls' basketball coach pleaded no contest Friday to molesting a teenage girl over a five-year period starting when she was 13.Bryan E. Shepherd, 49, entered the plea before Norwalk Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza, who scheduled March 25 for sentencing. Shepherd is expected to receive 28 years in prison under terms of a negotiated settlement, said deputy district attorney Jessica Tillson. Shepherd pleaded no contest to one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child and two counts of forcible lewd acts on a child. He was charged on Dec. 21, 2011. The case was moving to trial and Friday's plea came at a pretrial hearing. Shepherd has remained in custody since his arrest Dec. 20, 2011. Although Shepherd was a high school coach, authorities said the abuse did not occur at the school. The victim was molested from the time she was 13 in 2005 until she was 17 in 2010.

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Congresswoman announces office hours

DOWNEY - Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard has announced the office hours for her new district office located near the Citadel Outlets in Commerce.The office, located at 500 Citadel Dr., Suite 320, is open Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The congresswoman also has staff at the Barbara J. Riley Community and Senior Center from 10 a.m. to noon on the second Tuesday of each month. These caseworkers are available to help with a wide-range of federal matters, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, immigration visas and veterans' benefits. "Although we cannot order a federal agency to decide a matter in your favor, we can help you get a response," Roybal-Allard said.

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5K run at Santa Fe Dam

ROSEMEAD - Don Bosco Technical Institute will host the second annual Yurak Memorial 5K Run at Irwindale's Santa Fe Dam Recreational Area on March 9.In addition to the race, the event will feature a health expo, a kids-only race and live entertainment. All proceeds from the run will benefit Bosco's Yurak Athletic Center, the school's sports training facility and home of its nine competitive sports teams as well as community exercise classes. It is named after Bill Yurak, Bosco's late coach and athletic director who re-introduced the school's football program after a 34-year hiatus. Race registration is $35 per person and $30 each for groups of 10 or more. Parking for the first 100 cars is $5, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; $10 for each car after that. Registration includes racing fees, chip timing, finisher medal, commemorative T-shirt and goody bag. In addition to medals, plaques will be given to the top five male and female finishers and, in a newly added fastest student category, for runners under 18 years of age. Online registration is available at boscotech.edu and same day, in-person registration is available at the check-in table. Check-in starts at 8 a.m. and the race starts at 9. The kids' 1K Fun Run begins at 10 a.m. The health festival is conducted from 9:30 to 11 a.m. The Santa Fe Dam is located at 15501 E. Arrow Hwy. in Irwindale. For more information about the run, call Bosco Tech athletic director Chris Shockley at (626) 940-2101.

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Friends of Library welcome donations

DOWNEY - The Friends of the Downey City Library's annual membership drive was a success with the highest number of renewals and new membership ever, the group reported.Along with memberships, the Friends also received "generous donations." All donations are recognized by the Friends' treasurer with a letter to the donor. Donations "in honor of" or "in memory of" are recognized, if requested, with a donation notice sent to the corresponding honoree or family of the person honored, no amount of donation mentioned. Donations of $25 or more are recognized in the Friends' newsletter. All donations support the Downey City Library.

********** Published: February 28, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 46