Top 20 Stem Cell Predictions for 2017

stem cell crystal ball
Stem cell Crystal Ball
stem cell crystal ball
Stem cell crystal ball

Each year I make a list of predictions for the stem cell and regenerative medicine field for the coming new year. Later in this post I list my top 20 stem cell predictions for 2017. In looking at my past predictions I realized this will now be my 7th year doing stem cell/regenerative medicine yearly predictions.

You can see below links to these predictions for past years, which sometimes seems rather far removed from today and in other cases strike me as strangely apropos of our times.

What will 2017 bring? Below are my top 20 predictions in no particular order except starting with a few hopeful visions for the coming year.

  1. Positive news from Asterias on trial for stem cell-based therapy for spinal cord injury.
  2. Upbeat news from ViaCyte on stem cell-based therapy trial for diabetes.
  3. More positive news from the old Ocata now under Astellas umbrella on trial use of stem cell-derived RPE for Macular Degeneration.
  4. Good news on the adult stem cell front on trials for one or more major diseases. At least one and probably more positive developments here.
  5. Fake news hits stem cell arena. Stem cell clinics use fake news. For instance, this might be a media mouthpiece for one or more stem cell clinics actively using fake news-like approaches to promote them.
  6. More clarity on clinics: data. More academic publications on the practices and outcomes of stem cell clinics are published, bringing greater clarity to what is going on with actual data.
  7. More lawsuits against stem cell clinics. There has been a lot of buzz on this behind the scenes already and cases popping up in 2016. This is going to grow in 2017.
  8. Concrete clinic harms. We learn more about additional examples of patient who feel they’ve been harmed by American stem cell clinics including in particular alleged clinic-caused blindness.
  9. Some other federal agency besides the FDA makes news on stem cells. This may not be until 2018, but we’ll see.
  10. At least one FDA guidance is finalized. The FDA finalizes at least one of its four recent stem cell-related guidances, but probably not all four.
  11. More than one warning letter. The FDA issues more than one warning letter to stem cell clinics in this year. Will it still be a drop in the bucket or some kind of decisive action? The FDA may have more difficulty taking action within the Trump context and much will depend on who is the new Commissioner.
  12. Japan IPSC trial starts. Great news as at least one IPSC trial begins in Japan. Maybe two.
  13. Cures yields regen med IND. The FDA takes at least one accelerated stem cell-related IND action traceable to the Cures Act related to a promising new stem cell/regenerative medicine therapy. Hopefully no direct to consumer businesses try to tap in.
  14. Athersys, Cytori, and Mesoblast have some ups & downs amongst them.
  15. Prop 71 2.0. CIRM and/or Prop 71 supporters start more openly talking about a new round of CIRM funding. This may include mention of Trump as problematic for the stem cell field and the continuing need for California to take the lead.
  16. Trump somewhat, but not entirely limits ES cell funding. The Trump administration probably does not outright ban federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, but there may be some effort to limit it in some way such as not supporting generation of new lines perhaps à la Bush.
  17. Fetal tissue research restriction effort. The Trump administration and/or the GOP attempt to restrict human fetal tissue research.
  18. CRISPR of human embryos is blocked or limited in some way in the U.S. (e.g. FDA is not permitted to review applications related to this area as was the case with the rider on spending bill for 2016).
  19. Trump creates something like Bush’s President’s Council on Bioethics. It’s packed with conservatives including someone tied to the Witherspoon Institute. Deja vu all over again.
  20. Florida acts on clinics. The state of Florida takes some action on stem cell clinics, which are out of control there. Things are a mess clinic wise here in California too, but I’m not so sure the state will do anything helpful to deal with it.

7 Comments


  1. I think in 2017 we will see new examples of applications of dCas9 and dCasX epigenetic enzymes and transcription factors for the cells reprogramming, as well as research on in vivo epigenetic reprogramming.


  2. What about exosomes? My doctor mentioned these to me as a promising potential treatment for nerve and muscle regeneration and to decrease scar tissue.


    • many thing going on with MSC ( mesenchymal) and exosomes

      . Interaction of MSC with tumor cells
      • Catharina Melzer,
      • Yuanyuan Yang and
      • Ralf HassEmail authorView ORCID ID profile
      Cell Communication and Signaling201614:20
      DOI: 10.1186/s12964-016-0143-0
      Abstract
      Tumor development and tumor progression is not only determined by the corresponding tumor cells but also by the tumor microenvironment. This includes an orchestrated network of interacting cell types (e.g. immune cells, endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and mesenchymal stroma/stem cells (MSC)) via the extracellular matrix and soluble factors such as cytokines, chemokines, growth factors and various metabolites. Cell populations of the tumor microenvironment can interact directly and indirectly with cancer cells by mutually altering properties and functions of the involved partners. Particularly, mesenchymal stroma/stem cells (MSC) play an important role during carcinogenesis exhibiting different types of intercellular communication. Accordingly, this work focusses on diverse mechanisms of interaction between MSC and cancer cells. Moreover, some functional changes and consequences for both cell types are summarized which can eventually result in the establishment of a carcinoma stem cell niche (CSCN) or the generation of new tumor cell populations by MSC-tumor cell fusion.
      Keywords
      MSC Mesenchymal stroma/stem cells Tumor cell signaling Tumor microenvironment Cellular interaction Cell fusion

      see Fig. 1 in reference
      Indirect interactions between mesenchymal stroma/stem cells and cancer cells. a Cytokines, chemokines, growth factors: MSC secrete a plethora of soluble factors that can bind as substrates to appropriate receptors on the cell surface of cancer cells and vice versa for mutual activation of signaling pathways. b Metabolites: Likewise, MSC-released metabolites such as prostaglandin E2, kynurenine or galectin-1 can act in a paracrine manner on cancer cells altering their properties and functions [14]. c Exosomes: Both, MSC and cancer cells, secrete exosomes for the exchange of small molecules including protein, mRNAs and microRNAs. d Microvesicles: Besides exosomes, microvesicles represent a different type of microparticles for the exchange of small molecules such as mRNAs or microRNAs affecting tumor cells and MSC in mutual ways

      11. World J Stem Cells. 2016 Sep 26; 8(9): 268–278.
      Published online 2016 Sep 26. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v8.i9.268


  3. Several things 16 .Trump somewhat, but not entirely limits ES cell funding. The Trump administration probably does not outright ban federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, but there may be some effort to limit it in some way such as not supporting generation of new lines perhaps à la Bush.but Lanza will do most of the work in Japan with mesenchymal stem cells( MSC) along with #3 More positive news from the old Ocata now under Astellas umbrella on trial use of stem cell-derived RPE for Macular Degeneration.


  4. @paul, WOW, you’re really going out on a limb on this prediction, LOL.

    “14. Athersys, Cytori, and Mesoblast have some ups & downs amongst them.”

    That’s like predicting the weather is going to vary among the states of New York, Texas and Montana in 2017 but not giving any individual forecasts. Care to be a little more specific? As this prediction is currently written I can guarantee you will be correct!


  5. As a consequence of the expected confusion caused by US Trumperama, I expect UK politicians to seize the opportunity and push UK stem cell programs, just like they did when Bush Jr. put a brake on US developments.

    My guess is accelerated approval of stem cell derived retinal cells for AMD will be first, currently in trials (Prof. Coffey, Moorfields Eye Hospital + Pfizer). But underlying this, I expect some new UK regulations that jump over FDA and EMA with the notion that business will follow the clearer approval path in the UK. GO Brexit!

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