Recent stem cell news: vision, brain organoids, & lab meat

365 days a year, 24 hours a day stem cells are growing in labs around the world, providing a never-ending stream of data and products, with real hope, good news, and lots of surprises.

Images of human cornea and anatomical annotations from “Confocal Laser Microscopy – Principles and Applications in Medicine, Biology, and the Food Sciences, Edition: 1, Chapter: Laser-Scanning in vivo Confocal Microscopy of the Cornea: Imaging and Analysis Methods for Preclinical and Clinical Applications, Publisher: InTech, Editors: Ph.D. Neil Lagali and Beatrice Bourghardt Peebo.”

You can see some past examples of good news in the stem cell and regenerative medicine field highlighted on The Niche here.

Today’s post brings 2 examples of recent good news and a brain organoid surprise.

And one bonus more about space and when you’d run out of air (or not with some help) at the bottom.

Woman is first to receive cornea made from ‘reprogrammed’ stem cells from Nature. This comes from a news conference by ophthalmologist Kohji Nishida from Osaka University, Japan. The corneal cells were derived from IPS cells. Where does this work go from here? From the newsy Nature piece, “The Japanese health ministry gave Nishida permission to try the procedure on four people. He is planning the next operation for later this year and hopes to have the procedure in the clinic in five years.”

Scientists See Human-Like Brain Waves in Lab-Grown Mini-Brains.  No, human brain organoids can’t think, but if they continue to get bigger, more complex, vascularized, and there are other advances in the tech, we increasingly need to keep the ethical issues in mind.

Stem cell-grown meat research continues to swell. Here’s a new piece from CBS News on this area, “Inside the labs creating meat from stem cells.” Instead of a “chicken in every pot”, here we have the hope from a CEO of “one chicken feeding the world”:

“At SuperMeat, they extract stem cells from chickens. Those stem cells can become any type of cell, so by tweaking the mix of proteins and amino acids, they can direct them to become whatever they need: muscle, fat or connective tissue.

“The beauty with cell-based meat is that once you’ve established the cell bank you don’t need the chicken anymore,” CEO Ido Savir said. “So, theoretically, one chicken could feed the world.”

I’ve covered lab-grown meat on The Niche before including bacon and burgers. My friend Meri Firpo is R&D Director at Memphis Meats so I’m going to try to do an interview with her soon on where things stand at the company and in this field.
And as a bonus, here’s a random fun piece, “How Many Plants Would It Take to Produce Enough Oxygen for One Person?” This is a cool piece with a space travel-centric bent to it. Try to guess the answer, imagining a person in a sealed room, before reading the piece. I thought the number would be higher.

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