January 18, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Month: May 2015

1 min read

CIRM has reinvented itself in a new form, CIRM 2.0, under the leadership of its new President Randy Mills. CIRM is almost like a stem cell that has changed into another new kind of stem cell. Us scientists could see the change coming in the “programming” at CIRM in terms of how it was operating as the 2.0 version, but what would it bring in practical terms? We are starting to see the new CIRM 2.0 in action and by all signs it looks pretty …Read More

3 min read

Last week I attended Biotech & the Ethical Imagination (BEINGS 2015), the summit I previewed on this blog back in early May. It many ways the summit lived up to its lofty ambitions. Steven Pinker kicked off the event by emphasizing the power and importance of biomedical research, noting that almost everyone is affected by disease and imploring the bioethics community to “stay out of the way.” Margaret Atwood followed Pinker noting both the excitement of modern biotech and the perils of the enterprise. …Read More

1 min read

The Obama Administration today weighed in on human germline genetic modification such as via CRISPR via a note from John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The White House indicated support for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) plans to convene an international meeting on human germline genetic modification including CRISPR-Cas9 technology: “The White House applauds NAS and NAM for convening this dialogue and …Read More

1 min read

The local paper, The Sacramento Bee (SacBee) just ran a piece on Monday on the GMO controversy. Few places are more in the thick of it than right here in Davis, CA and the Sacramento region more generally. Some of the earliest GMO plants were created right here in Davis including the Flavr Savr tomato. Monsanto also has a big presence here. Over the years, anti-GMO protestors regularly protest the company in this area. Monsanto moved its local presence from Davis to nearby Woodland, CA, but …Read More

2 min read

As CRISPR gene editing technology has advanced in the last few years, the number of genetically modified animals made with this system has steadily increased. Some are very interesting and useful for science. At the same time especially when they are little, they can be very cute. A nickname is going around for these GM animals: CRISPR-y critters or CRISPR critters.. It turns out that there used be a breakfast cereal called Crispy Critters. It had a very odd looking mascot named Crispy with …Read More

2 min read

Heritable human genetic modification has been the topic of the year so far, but another trend is edgy and interesting: non-heritable, but cutting edge forms of human modification that in some ways fall into the class of biohacking. Biohackers are into do-it-yourself (DIY) forms of biology including self-modification. Sure, people have been modifying themselves for thousands of years. Tattoos, hair changes, cosmetic surgery, tooth fillings and crowns, pacemakers and other medical implants. However, changing up one’s body has gone high-tech and DIY to include …Read More

2 min read

Many of us scientists, ethicists, and legal scholars are working on educational outreach to the public on the potential use of gene editing technologies like CRISPR to genetically modify human beings, but clearly there’s a long way to go and much more to do on this front. By the way, you may find this new 2020 post we’ve done on the intersection of CRISPR gene editing and stem cells to be a useful read. The future use of CRISPR to edit the human genome in a …Read More

4 min read

A decade ago I wrote an article in the journal Nature Biotechnology about the rise of a new gene editing technology called zinc finger nucleases (ZNF). It was one of those “drumbeat” discoveries: at the time, my sense was it would revolutionize how we deliver genes to cells and tissues, and profoundly change the way we think about gene therapy. I was partially right. Although ZNFs are now well along in clinical trials for HIV, successive advances in precision gene editing now include transcription …Read More

5 min read

Last Thursday I participated in a meeting at Stanford Law School on human germline genetic modification hosted by Hank Greely (pictured at left), Professor of Law and Genetics at Stanford. The meeting was entitled, “Human Germline Modification: Medicine, Science, Ethics, and Law”. The panel included in addition to Hank and me, the following speakers: Marcy Darnovsky, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society (CGS); Christopher (Chris) Thomas Scott, Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, and Lynn M. Westphal, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University Medical School. …Read More

5 min read

What is the “proper” amount of freedom of choice for patients in medicine? What if the treatments in question are experimental and come with their own baggage of associated risks, personal costs, and potential costs to society? More broadly, do patients have a fundamental right to medical choice? These questions seem particularly appropriate today on a number of fronts including Right To Try laws and vaccines as well as emerging stem cell and other biomedical technologies. The recent measles outbreaks including the one sparked at …Read More