July 14, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

TGIF: Stem Cell Stream of Consciousness Including CRISPR

It seems like Fridays are always a good time for reflection.

It’s not like the scientist’s week ends on Friday sad to say, but still at least we can pause momentarily TGIF style and reflect on the maelstrom that is our lives, while cracking open another diet Coke or pouring another cup of coffee.

This week was a great one for getting into some intense discussions with other scientists both in person and electronically.

CRISPR the talk of the biology town. Everyone is talking about CRISPR-Cas9. There are many subtopics. I’m just going to throw them on the table in a stream of consciousness here. Gee, CRISPR is not as specific as I thought. Uh oh, CRISPR is harder to get to work than I thought (as portrayed in early papers). CRISPR is fricking awesome. Oh, **** , people are going to CRISPR human embryos? The people who innovated CRISPR-Cas9 like Jennifer Doudna are amazing and deserve a Nobel Prize.

CIRM change leaves some feeling unsettled. There is starting to be a feeling of disconnect, especially amongst more basic stem cell researchers, with CIRM.

CIRM just isn’t–at least so far in the existence of CIRM 2.0–funding basic or early translational stem cell research much or at all any more. Maybe it will in the future as there have been hints about that, but support from CIRM in a major way for important, basic stem cell research is probably basically over. The wildly successful and positive CIRM Bridges Program is nearing an end. The CIRM T32 training program are winding down. Many of the early-mid-stage CIRM grants are ending.Lujan paper

There’s definitely a feeling in the California stem cell community of CIRM kind of having moved on from a whole class of stem cell researchers barring those fortunate few who still have grants. Maybe there can be a future reunion.

CDI Buyout Big Bucks. Fujifilm shelled out almost a 1/3 of a billion dollars for Jamie Thomson’s Cellular Dynamics International (CDI). I guess IPSC are really worth big bucks, although CDI isn’t so IPSC-specific anymore. Regenerative Medicine is now proving its worth big bucks. Billions and billions?

Cool New Wernig Lab paper in Nature, but what does it mean? I saw that new Wernig lab Nature paper with Garry Nolan’s uber-fancy FACS-mass spec data. Those SPADE analysis images that look like trees branches into rainbowy fractals sure are pretty. Is it like some kind of heatmap-esque, principle component, multidimensional analysis coolness? Yeah, I’m going to have to read this Wernig lab paper more carefully.

Over at the Stanford media the wonderful Krista Conger boiled the paper down to say that there is a defined “transition state” during reprogramming.