After nightmare stem cell week, some good news?


We in the stem cell field should call this past week: A Nightmare on Stem Street.

I can’t think of many weeks that have been worse for the stem cell field than this past one. I’m a new week is starting soon.

It was a real nightmare, although I wish it was just something fictional out of the movies (see movie poster from Wikipedia). What happened?

  • The STAP horror fest kicked it up a notch in providing pain to the stem cell field with a dramatic press conference from Dr. Obokata in Japan that was a toxic stew. More STAP press conferences are apparently coming….
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School took a stem cell hit with a paper retracted (by request from Harvard) from the outstanding journal Circulation. This paper from cardiologist Dr. Piero Anversa had claimed against all odds/previous data that the heart could quickly repair itself.
  • A second shot to the heart for the stem cell field came again from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as they face another burgeoning stem cell paper fiasco. The Editors of The Lancet published an expression of concern about another stem cell paper from Anversa.
  • And there was yet another high profile stem cell paper retraction, this time from Cell, was announcedThe compromised paper “Directed Conversion of Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Skin Fibroblasts into Functional Neurons” had reported some interesting direct reprogramming, but one author, Dr. Ryousuke Fujita, has reportedly fessed up to some serious shenanigans on the data. The retraction was at the request of the authors.
  • Finally, NIH CRM is finished. Finally, the chilling cherry on top of the stem cell week from hell was the news that NIH’s stem cell program, the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) was closing up shop after only having funded one grant. Terrible news.

So how about some good stem cell news?

Any other stem cell good news recently?

7 thoughts on “After nightmare stem cell week, some good news?”

  1. I have spent… probably hundreds of hours in the past three and a half years in researching stem cell treatments for AMD (after starting with the useless ones that previously existed, like retinal transplants.) From all that research, I can honestly say that evidence points strongly towards Dr. Lanza’s work resulting in an hESC-based cure for AMD/SSD/MMD/extremely rare forms, and that this will be the first FDA-approved treatment – but ONLY if ACT (Advanced Cell Technology) can hold it together as a business. (Stemcell Inc is doing a lot better on other fronts, but not in terms of the AMD treatments.)

    We shouldn’t be in a situation where medicine depends on business success or failure. But we are, and it’s the direct result of many years’ worth of past events and decisions. Because I don’t think this is the place to discuss politics, let’s leave it at that!

  2. Stem cells seemed like they were some big political thing for a while (anti-abortionists preventing live-saving medicine for gramma…or some meme like that). Been a few years now, what treatments are based on stem cells now, what diseases cured?

    P.s. I remember in the 70s/80s interferon was supposed to be this thing that would come up with a cure for cancer. Anything ever come from that?

    (Not entirely a troll. I am a non-biologist and don’t track these “hot” areas of science all the time. Sort of wonder if anything comes of some of them.)

  3. I have no good news whatsoever, but I’d like to mention an inside story on STAP incident, in connection with the movies.
    What I call Dr. X as a male mentor of Ms. Obokata in RIKEN goes by the nickname “Kevin Costner” behind his back in Japan. The reason is that he told her that he would be a Kevin Costner for her. He should have been conscious of Costner’s famous movie “The Bodyguard.”
    (XXXX edit) There’s no longer science there.

    1. Hey T-N- Take it easy man. Whether he is Kevin, she is Sharon, how is it relevant to the issue? It’s for the researchers to prove / disprove the STAP phenomenon, now that she’s sticking to her guns! Gossip mongering and pointing fingers at personal lives ain’t gonna solve the problem.

      1. Hi, Stem_cell,

        I’m sorry to contradict you, but I meant no harm.
        You said, “It’s for the researchers to prove / disprove the STAP phenomenon, now that she’s sticking to her guns!”
        So whoever the heck can persuade her scientifically? To put it bluntly, it’s apparent that she has no scientific mind enough to see her doing as fault. I guess that nobody but “Kevin Costner” can persuade her. It’s my previous comment that hints such. That’s all there is to it. So much for today.


  4. One tinge of a silver lining is that the news media are having to learn a lot more about the differences among types of stem cells, how experiments are done, the peer review and publication processes, and the scientific community’s aggressive role in correcting scientific errors, even those that are innocent mistakes. I think this makes the majority of us look pretty good. And an educated press will be good for us in the long run.

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