January 27, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Year: 2020

7 min read

Each year I metaphorically try to look into a crystal ball for stem cell predictions for the coming year and I did so for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into my predictions. It actually kind of blew some up. It also raised some interesting questions and dilemmas. For instance, do many kinds of non-cellular research for COVID-19 count as “regenerative medicine”? What about COVID research as regenerative medicine? Some folks sure seem to think so. Witness our California state stem …Read More

8 min read

Imagine receiving a smidgeon of thymus gland along with a donated heart or kidney, to fool the immune system into accepting the transplant. Authors of a new study argue that might be possible, based on their new proof-of-principle experiments. The team from the Epithelial Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine lab at the Francis Crick Institute and University College London published their recipe for fashioning of a human thymus from stem cells seeded onto a bioengineered scaffold appears in Nature Communications. The rebuilt thymi …Read More

2 min read

The stem cell paper of the week is a fun one about how capsaicin and nociceptors reportedly mobilize blood stem cells.  However, since the authors only show this in mice, could it also happen in humans? They argue it’s likely happening in people too. Note that nociceptors are special structures in our bodies that sense pain, not just from spicy food but also from other sources. Where to even start of think about the big take-home message? “Spicy food sparks stem cells” or “stem …Read More

4 min read

Sometimes patients or my students ask me, “What are the best stem cells?” what information are they looking for? I think they often are looking for the most powerful stem cells so perhaps they should be asking, “What are totipotent stem cells?” Other times it seems what patients specifically want to know is what might be the best stem cells for their particular condition. The answer to that is, of course, going to depend on many factors. I’m a long-time stem cell biologist so …Read More

2 min read

I’ve been closely following the arena of stem cells for COVID-19 since the pandemic broke including the efforts of Mesoblast. Mesoblast unlikely to meet primary endpoints in Phase III COVID trial Now, the firm got bad news as its DSMB reported that they are unlikely to meet the primary endpoint for their Phase III trial of their stem cell product for COVID-19 based on preliminary analyses. Mesoblast had set the endpoint as a “43% reduction in mortality at 30 days for treatment with remestemcel-L.” …Read More

4 min read

Approval of Prop 14 California last month to renew CIRM was one of the biggest state election developments of 2020. Yet it didn’t get much news coverage somehow. The exception is David Jensen over at California Stem Cell Report, who has been a great source of information about the various news surrounding Prop 14 and CIRM so check that out. CIRM is having a public meeting today about its future. You are welcome to participate. As Jensen notes, CIRM has a lot of information …Read More

3 min read

What to read when there are almost an endless number of stem cell and regenerative medicine pubs? Here are some suggestions including what I would say is a very unusual Nature paper on making egg cells from stem cells. If this could be done safely with human cells all the way to functional eggs, would you consider stem cell-related fertility treatments to be “Regenerative Medicine”? Regenerative medicine and stem cell pubs Reconstitution of the oocyte transcriptional network with transcription factors, Nature. I’d call this …Read More

8 min read

We often talk about stem cells but there are some pretty basic, important questions that often go unanswered like ‘where do stem cells come from?’ The Niche It’s a more complicated and interesting question than you might think, and some of the answers point to novel ways in which stem cells may be used to treat human diseases. Note that if you are looking for information in a language other than English, my stem cell outreach pages have key facts about stem cells in …Read More

3 min read

Today’s The Niche recommended weekly reads post includes both primary papers and also a few media pieces. I’m especially interested in the first piece on making more complex embryo-like structures from ES cells. This is a long way from just making embryoid bodies or EBs. At the end of the post I discuss an article that highlighted what seems to be a super-pricey new fee-scheme for open access work and review at Nature Publishing. Artificial embryos, bioengineered thymus Mouse embryonic stem cells self-organize into …Read More

6 min read

Would you eat lab grown meat? Envision biting into a warm juicy burger with all the trimmings. Lab grown meat intro If you are a burger fan, your mouth may already be watering. Or maybe you prefer steak or bacon? If you are a vegetarian or animal welfare advocate, however, you might be rather disturbed by this imagery, except that burgers these days even at places like Burger King and McDonald’s are more often not made from cows than in past years. Some vegetarians …Read More