January 28, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Could Spock Style Stem Cells Have Saved Leonard Nimoy?

leonard nimoySpock was always my favorite Star Trek character, and even if Leonard Nimoy was not Spock, it seemed to me that there was much of Nimoy in Spock.

And for many of us scientists there was some of Nimoy and Spock in us too.

The news of Nimoy’s death was a bit of a shock to me. I had no idea he wasn’t well and had kind of assumed that he would be with us for a very long time. (update: Nimoy’s fellow Star Trek actor William Shatner recently got unproven stem cells and later a firm involved got warned by the FDA).

It seems that Nimoy died at least in part due to issues related to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a disease that more than 10 million Americans battle. Nimoy lost that battle.

Already several people have asked me the same question:

Could stem cells have saved him?

There is a great deal of excitement as well as hype surrounding the idea that stem cells may be an effective, totally new way to treat COPD.COPD stem cells

Eighteen months ago I wrote about the buzz of using stem cells for COPD.

I described the three main ways stem cells for COPD in theory might work, but I was skeptical (and still am) that we are close to a reality of using stem cells to safely and effectively treat COPD. Maybe some day in the future.

So unfortunately I don’t think that stem cells could have saved Nimoy unless he could have somehow otherwise hung on for another decade or so. Interestingly, Nimoy narrated a documentary film on stem cell research.

The number of stem cell clinical trials for COPD have more than doubled since I first wrote that COPD post, going from 7 to 18, but notably some are questionable as they are not what I would consider traditional clinical trials.

Spock was my hero as a little kid when I watched Star Trek re-runs before I even really understood much of anything about the man behind him. The more I learned of Nimoy, the more impressed I was with him.

Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy.

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