Very small embryonic-like stem cells aka VSELs are reported to be tiny adult stem cells that are pluripotent or non-existent depending on whom you talk to most recently or which paper you just read.
These very controversial cells (which I once compared to the Sasquatch) have a wildly fluctuating history with their existence on multiple occasions apparently being proven and then later disproven. The latter fate of them being not existing was most recently shown rather convincingly by Irv Weissman’s lab and the former fate of them being real most recently is shown in new papers published in the journal Stem Cells and Development including one by primary VSEL proponent, Dr. Mariusz Z. Ratajczak. This issue also included a letter from VSEL skeptic Jozef Dulak.
BTW note the very cool Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon-Inspired acid trip-like Cover Image of the Stem Cells and Development journal representing VSEL multipotency. I haven’t had a chance to read these new VSEL papers yet so I cannot say any thoughts on them specifically as of yet.
But more broadly could the crazy roller coaster VSEL history predict the future of STAP cells?
I think it might and many VSEL-related events lead me to ask questions about STAP.
Could Dr. Charles Vacanti (the main remaining defender of STAP) have a future role as the longer term primary defender of STAP cells that parallels Ratajczak’s role on VSELs?
Could there be a STAP company akin to the biotech NeoStem, which works on VSELs?
Could such a STAP company already exist or be in the germinal stages via investors who might have pumped in millions of dollars into STAP?
Might we expect a helter-skelter VSEL-like future for STAP cells with a series of papers alternately claiming their existence or debunking them?
The answers to these questions will come over time, but I think there may be many important parallels between the history of VSELs and the future of STAP.