January 23, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

TGIF: stem cell headline weekly review for May 11

Of course stem cells and their caretakers never sleep or take the weekend off, right? But still TGIF!

Last week we had some really good and some ugly stem cell headlines that I covered here.

How was this week?

Good. ES cell differentiation requires chromatin compaction. A PLoS Genetics paper by a team led by Yuhong Fan at GIT indicates that loss of a number of histone H1subtypes interfered with chromatin compaction in ES cells and subsequently the knockout cells failed to differentiate normally in the neural lineage. I think this is fascinating and has many implications more broadly for links between chromatin structure and pluripotency.

Good, but preliminary. Scientists at my postdoctoral alma mater, the Hutch in Seattle, reported some evidence that genetically modified hematopoietic stem cells might be protective for glioblastoma patients receiving chemo.

Good, but too al dente (i.e. not quite ready yet). More progress in growing teeth from stem cells…will they be sweet teeth?

Bad and maybe good….or who the heck knows. There was a big media splash and concurrent run up in the stock price of Pluristem after they reported that they saved the life of a very sick little girl in Jerusalem using their PLX cell product.  What could be bad about that right? Well, the only problem is that as best as I can tell there is no clear scientific evidence that the PLX treatment is actually what saved the girl. PLX is a placental stem cell product injected intramuscularly. I hope that the PLX really did save the girl, but for now one has to say this is hype. In either case, I wish her all the best!

A bit worrisome. ACT’s financials for the first quarter of 2012 reportedly are a bit worse than last year. The stock (ACTC) has been on a mostly one-way downhill streak of late, closing at just under 8 cents, without any clear reason for the downward trend. Some good news is that they ended the quarter with almost $11 million in cash so that lends some stability to the only company currently conducting FDA approved clinical trials on ESC-based treatments of any kind. In ACT’s case, the trials are for macular degeneration.

Ugly? No truly ugly headlines this week as best as I can tell. That’s something to celebrate….we may pay extra next week however with a higher dose of dumbness in the headlines.

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