July 13, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

What’s on your weekend reads list including stem cell papers?

In addition to hard-core research papers, I find some bigger picture publications to be helpful too. Then there are just fun items.

Every so often I do a post about things that I’m hoping to find time to read over the weekend or that I’ve recently read. Today’s post is one of those items and here are some interesting science reads related in particular to stem cells, cancer, and CRISPR.

Eyleen de Poel and Maarten Geurts studying some organoids used in the CRISPR cystic fibrosis research. Image from UMC Utrecht.
Eyleen de Poel and Maarten Geurts taking a look a and discussing some organoids used in their CRISPR cystic fibrosis research. Image from UMC Utrecht.

Stem cell research and the Heart

From Chuck Murry and W. Robb MacLellan in Science we have a great piece entitled, “Stem cells and the heart—the road ahead.

Somehow the intersection of cardiology and stem cell biology has seemed to lead to some tangles over the years, including both related to the question as to whether the heart has its own stem cell population and also transplantation of stem cells into the heart.

This piece is a helpful overview of where we’re at and future paths. They see promise in a number of areas including based on pluripotent stem cells.

In my view the Piero Anversa situation did some harm, but maybe less than some thought in the long run and the field has moved on.

Stem cell therapies for dogs

Have stem cells gone to the dogs? As a dog owner and stem cell biologist, I’m always interested when I see stories about dog stem cells. From the LA Times we have, “Study tests whether stem cells heal arthritis in large dogs.” The piece is worth a quick read. The piece is anchored on a story of a therapy dog who has arthritis and the hope that stem cell infusions might help him and other canines:

“Then in late August, he was given stem cell injections as part of a new study at the Anaheim Hills Pet Clinic. The effort, headed by San Diego-based Animal Cell Therapies, is testing whether stem cells can help alleviate arthritis in dogs weighing 70 pounds or more.”

The owner seemed upbeat about the outcome. More data is needed in the long run to be sure, but this news item highlights how massive the interest is in veterinary regenerative medicine. Over the year a number of stem cell clinics people have pointed to veterinary arthritis outcomes with stem cells to bolster what they are selling for use in people.

It’s odd that LAT classified this as an entertainment story.

CRISPR and Cystic Fibrosis

From Fierce Biotech we have an aspirational title for a CRISPR piece even though it’s in the form of a question, “A CRISPR cure for cystic fibrosis?” The piece from Arlene Weintraub reports on a Cell Stem Cell study from a team including first author Maarten Geurts and senior author Hans Clevers. They used adenine base editing and an organoid model to try to fix cystic fibrosis-causing mutations in the CFTR gene. You can see an image above of Geurts and 2nd author Eyleen de Poel examining some of the organoids used in the study.

There’s a long road to a cure, but this is exciting work. It’s good though that the Fierce Biotech piece had a cautionary note at the end about challenges:

“Hubrecht’s Geurts warned that using base editing in the treatment of cystic fibrosis could ultimately prove challenging, because the disease affects more than just the lungs. So far, CRISPR has shown the most promise in diseases that affect just one organ or tissue type, such as sickle cell. So his team is planning further studies to determine whether base editing will be feasible in treating people with cystic fibrosis.”

Stem cell stuff to fight aging?

Hannah Partos over at Wired has a piece on stem cells and aging that covers where we’re at on that frontier. This piece starts off with a bang:

“To some longevity acolytes, stem cells promise the secret to eternal youth. For a hefty fee, you can pay a startup to extract your own stem cells and cryogenically freeze them, in the hope that they can one day be used in a treatment to help extend your life.

Other firms let you bank stem cells from your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta after childbirth, if you’re convinced the high cost represents an insurance policy against future illness. Or you can follow the example of Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett and opt for an anti-ageing cream made with stem cells derived from the severed foreskins of newborn babies in South Korea.”

Yeah, the stem cell anti-aging world can be wild, but there’s some real hope there for coming decades from rigorous research at least. Note those “cremes” and stuff.

And some more pubs worth a read

Ascl2-Dependent Cell Dedifferentiation Drives Regeneration of Ablated Intestinal Stem Cells

High-Resolution Dissection of Chemical Reprogramming from Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts into Fibrocartilaginous Cells

PIK3CA variants selectively initiate brain hyperactivity during gliomagenesis

p53 controls genomic stability and temporal differentiation of human neural stem cells and affects neural organization in human brain organoids

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