It’s always great when there’s good news in the stem cell field and a new trial of stem cells for spina bifida here at UC Davis School of Medicine is very encouraging. So I’ll lead off with this story.
Stem cells for spina bifida
This pioneering work is led by Drs. Diana Farmer and Aijun Wang. It has received major funding from CIRM, which covered the work on its blog recently.
I also wrote before about how this work was being tested in animal models including in dogs, including Arthur who at one point visited my lab. You can learn more about the research in the video below.
In spina bifida the spinal cord is exposed and that exposure is damaging. The idea behind the trial is to use a patch that includes placental cells to cover the spine area and allow for healthy spinal cord development.
An almost three-year-long trial will start providing data in people to learn more about the nature of the patch including its safety. The hope is that the therapy may ultimately prove safe and effective for spina bifida. At present if detected by ultrasound surgeons can do in utero surgery to try to close the defect. Sometimes surgery can be done early after birth.
I’m excited to see how this trial proceeds.
Stem Cell News
FDA grants fast track designation to stem cell therapy for type 1 diabetes. This designation goes to Vertex Pharma. The more solid clinical trial work on diabetes the greater the promise of a treatment or cure one day. Hopefully that day is coming in the next 5-10 years.
- Macrophages provide a transient muscle stem cell niche via NAMPT secretion, Nature. This is especially interesting since macrophages are most well-known for eating other cells such as virus-infected cells. Macrophages can also present antigens to stimulate or modulate immune responses. Who would have thought they can provide a niche-like function to muscle stem cells?
- Alternative approaches to target Myc for cancer treatment, Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy. Myc has been thought to be untargetable for decades so new ideas and alternatives are needed.
- Using digital twins in viral infection, Science.
- A single-plasmid approach for genome editing coupled with long-term lineage analysis in chick embryos, Development.
- Single-cell lineages reveal the rates, routes, and drivers of metastasis in cancer xenografts, Science.