January 26, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Month: January 2018

4 min read

My first job in science was as a lab technician at UCSD School of Medicine and a big part of that job was growing cells called HUVECs or human umbilical vein endothelial cells. We isolated and grew the HUVECs from umbilical cords that we retrieved from the maternity ward of the UCSD hospital, which first entailed getting the placenta and attached umbilical cord as our starting material. Some people viewed this material as “gross”, but as a newbie scientist I was kind of in …Read More

3 min read

Did you hear the one about the deep state FDA, big pharma stem cell conspiracy theory? This is the phony idea that the FDA, big pharma, and, heck, sometimes even certain academics (who could that be?) are plotting together as some kind of biomedical secret society or “deep state” to block promising stem cell therapies from reaching patients. It is one of the more persistent stem cell myths out there. Unfortunately, the stem cell arena is more prone these days to this kind of fake news. …Read More

3 min read

There are now so many clinics selling non-FDA approved stem cell offerings across the U.S. that tens or hundreds of thousands of patients are at risk. How did we get here? What if we had a way of understanding how stem cell clinics spread across the U.S. in the first place? For example, an animated map showing the spread of stem cell clinics selling non-FDA approved “treatments” across the U.S. would be useful. With publication of our new paper, the recent work of Leigh Turner …Read More

4 min read

Is monkey cloning a good idea? We’re about to find out. A new Cell paper today reports the first cloning of monkeys via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), raising many questions. The paper from a team led by Qiang Sun is entitled, “Cloning of Macaque Monkeys by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer.” The highlight bullet points from the paper are the following: “•Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) using fetal fibroblasts yielded two live monkeys •Epigenetic modulators promoted development and pregnancy rate of SCNT embryos •SCNT …Read More

3 min read

A researcher working at Kyoto University has reportedly engaged in misconduct leading to an institutional request for retraction of a paper from the journal Stem Cell Reports. The paper in question appears to have rather large-scale problems: “Kohei Yamamizu, a specially appointed assistant professor at the university’s Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, falsified all six main figures in the paper that claimed he had succeeded in generating a brain structure in vitro using iPS cells, according to Kyoto University.” The Center for iPS Cell …Read More

4 min read

CRISPR and IPS cells are two of my favorite things so when they come together as in a cool, new paper from Sheng Ding’s lab, I’m excited to read it and curious as to what the scoop is. Since 2006-2007 when mouse and human reprogramming were first reported, many different methods have been explored to make induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells. Along the way we’ve all learned quite a lot about how pluripotency is regulated, whether it is in the context of maintenance or …Read More

2 min read

2018 has started quickly on the stem cell and regenerative medicine research front with many interesting new papers and a lot of headlines. You can see my predictions for this year here. Below is a list of some of the more notable papers and striking news headlines. Note that just because I listed a news headline doesn’t mean a fan and in some cases below I include some words of commentary. I’ve also thrown in a few more rando papers of interest to me. …Read More

3 min read

A team of researchers at RIKEN and Kobe City Medical Center reported at a press conference today a serious adverse event in a clinical trial participant receiving an induced pluripotent stem cell (IPS cell)-based therapy for vision loss. According to Japan Times and Yahoo! Japan (in Japanese), the patient in question in the IPS cell trial for macular degeneration developed a problem with his eye following the cell transplant. From Yahoo! Japan: “The patient had an operation on Monday to remove pre-retinal membrane, deemed to …Read More

2 min read

Florida is a hot mess on the for-profit stem cell clinic front. My own state of California isn’t much better and actually has a great number of clinics, but more problems are coming to light in Florida, at least at this point. Now WLRN reports that a legislator in Florida has proposed a new bill to try to address some of the issues with the clinics. Many clinics in Florida are making money from vulnerable patients and in some cases have apparently caused them harm, including claimed …Read More

4 min read

Are you a risk-taker or do you do everything possible to avoid risks? Taking risks in science is necessary, but is there a wise way to take the risks you do? Science and medicine need a certain amount of risk and risk-takers to make transformative leaps forward. The risks in biomedical science can be conceptual (a eureka! moment of a new hypothesis you are going to put out there) or more practical such as inventing a new device or method. As to the former, …Read More