January 16, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Month: November 2015

1 min read

What’s been up the past week in terms of news in the stem cell world? The Wall Street Journal reports that the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) has signed a 20-year lease on a much larger space, in fact twice the current size, in Manhattan. That would seem to be a great sign of things to come for NYSCF, a fantastic organization led by the wonderful Susan Solomon (pictured in her TED talk), who was quoted that the NYSCF team is growing as well. …Read More

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The National Academy of Sciences (NAS)  summit on Human Gene Editing will begin in a few days on December 1 in Washington, D.C. This summit is in part the extension of discussions that started at a more informal meeting on CRISPR earlier this year in Napa organized by Jennifer Doudna and colleagues. The NAS meeting will bring together scientists, ethicists, and policymakers from around the world and in particular from the US, the UK, and China. These three countries are presently the hotbeds of …Read More

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I’m thankful for a whole bunch of things on Thanksgiving including family, but here I wanted to talk specifically about why we should be thankful for science. At this moment in history it is plainly evident how greatly past science has helped the world and at the same time how intensely the world needs research right now as well as looking to the immediate future. When reality is only an occasional stop on the crazy path of many public figures including, for instance, certain …Read More

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A few weeks back I started a poll focusing on whether people would have a designer baby if they could. With nearly 200 responses so far, the results are very mixed (see image). One conclusion from this I think is that we need more information on possible risks versus benefits. Another element here is that the poll, as one commenter pointed out, did not divide between health-related and enhancement motivations behind having the designer baby. I may do a future poll including that divide. …Read More

2 min read

NASA researchers have been interested in the effects of space travel and in particular microgravity (μg; not to be confused in this context with the common abbreviation for micrograms) on stem cells. For instance, see the past piece “Stem Cells Take Wild Ride in Space Capsule”. In a new NASA study led by Dr. Eduardo A.C. Almeida, the researchers found that μg reduced the regenerative capacity of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESC). The mESC taken to space exhibited altered behavior including reduced differentiation into a …Read More

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It’s been a busy few weeks for the stem cell field. Below are some news briefs on developments. RetractionWatch reports that Piero Anversa is leaving Harvard/Brigham and Women’s Hospital after an investigation and dismissed lawsuit he filed against the institution. All still quiet on the STAP cell front at the same institutions. There’s some more clarity and confusion over the Japanese regulatory sphere for IPS cells. New regs may not be issued for another 4 or more months, leaving the clinical studies there in …Read More

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Over the years I’ve heard from quite a few patients of stem cell clinics who feel very strongly about their experiences. Some have quite positive views on getting stem cell interventions, while others feel very negatively about the stem cell clinics. I’ve heard more of the latter kind of experience. People often tell me that the stem cells from clinics only worked briefly at best and were too expensive. Another complaint is that the clinic responds to patient disappointment often by suggesting additional, expensive …Read More

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After a seemingly endless period of review, the FDA has approved the genetically modified (GM) AquaBounty salmon for sale and consumption. Update: You might find my interview with George Church on CRISPR and gene modification interesting. I don’t see any particular reason to think that this GM fish as a food would pose any significant health risks to people. The fish’s hypothetical risk to the ecosystem is greatly reduced by restrictions on where it can be grown to areas away from natural waterways. Note …Read More

3 min read

A recent piece on CRISPR genetic modification in the New Yorker called The Gene Hackers or Human 2.0 by Michael Specter is striking in a number of ways. I highly recommend it. The article provides an in-depth look at CRISPR and its potential use for human editing. I like how the article brings so many viewpoints to bear on this important topic. The thing that struck me the most was the recounting of a dream, really a nightmare, that left CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna …Read More