Stem cells are always in the news so what’s up in the last week or two?
The dialogue over CIRM’s future is picking up a bit of steam. The San Francisco Chronicle did an in-depth piece on CIRM some weeks back and then opined that they didn’t feel supportive of another round of funding. I disagree. I think CIRM is a good future investment for California, but as a past CIRM grantee and stem cell advocate my opinion is probably not a surprise to readers.
Over at Science Translational Medicine, Derek Lowe expresses a pretty balanced view on the past and possible future of CIRM in a new blog post “Fighting It Out Over Stem Cells.”
MSCs = ???
It seems like MSCs are always in the news. Over at Nature, MSCs take a beating from Douglas Sipp, Pamela G. Robey and Leigh Turner. In their piece “Clear up this stem-cell mess”, they argue for abandoning the name MSC for stem cells altogether. They point out the explosion of pubs focused on MSCs (most commonly referring to “mesenchymal stem cells”) and also of clinics marketing MSCs. Another problem is that MSCs can refer to a whole bunch of different kinds of cells and probably most often to mixtures of different cells. MSC has come to be an umbrella term and is sometimes misused, which is also very problematic.
It’s probably not realistic to think that the term MSC can be fully jettisoned, but I agree it’s a messy area. Of the two main ideas for what MSC could stand for besides as a name for kinds of stem cells, I think “mesenchymal stromal cells” is way better than “medicinal signaling cells” since the latter is way too aspirational. Neither term has caught on though.