Latest developments and scoops on STAP stem cells

Acid-induced pluripotent or even totipotent stem cells, called STAP stem cells, have thrown the stem cell field for a bit of a loop. For more background see my interview with the key public face of STAP, Dr. Charles Vacanti, as well as my review of their paper, my top 5 reasons for skepticism, and some other thoughts. Do you believe in STAP? You can also see a poll from the first week post-STAP and you can vote in a current ongoing poll.

What are the latest developments on the STAP front?

  • Human too? We have seen that Vacanti has now reportedly claimed several times (most recently here) to the press that he has made human STAP stem cells. It seems like to be sure one would have to do studies taking months such as teratoma assays and other functional assays so this seems to be going out on a limb in my opinion.

Shinya Yamanaka

  • Yamanaka getting a bit concerned. We have also seen today that for the first time Shinya Yamanaka seems to be getting upset about some of the claims related to STAP stem cells, particularly as they relate to supposed advantages of STAP over iPS cells. I tend to agree with him. Folks, STAP stem cells may or may not even be the real deal or have unanticipated problems, whereas iPS cells are very much the real deal and already have been put through a host of tests over 7 years and are already in a clinical study. It’s too early to say what STAP may or may not be able to do or how they compare to iPS cells.
  • STAP not working for one? One commenter on this blog mentioned that their first attempt to make STAP cells was unsuccessful. Of course one preliminary report shouldn’t be over-interpretted on its own, but it is notable. I’ve set up a crowdsourcing site for people to share data from their STAP validation attempts so hopefully in the next week or so we can get more clarity. Please consider participating if you are trying to validate STAP.
  • STAP in the tea leaves back in 2011? A new piece on STAP stem cells in Bioscience reports that Weizmann Institute stem cell researcher Dov Zipori predicted STAP way back in 2011. I cannot find anything concrete on that, but it’ll be interesting to learn more.