Recommended reads: Bik, FDA letter, gecko cancer model, David Baltimore on COVID origin

What can a gecko possibly teach us about skin cancer? Read on.

It’s fun when a week’s worth of science reading covers so much territory including COVID-19, geckos that get cancer, a research misconduct sleuth, an FDA letter, and more.

Baltimore weighs in on COVID lab origin idea

Caltech has a very interesting interview with David Baltimore on the possible lab-origin of SARS-CoV2. Baltimore had previously made some statements that suggest he might be leaning toward a lab-origin theory. In the interview he goes through his current thinking, which seems more cautious. His digging a bit into the molecular virology is fascinating.

gecko cancer
“The common leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius, comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, including (clockwise from top left) Sunburst Tangerine, Black Night, White Knight, and Gem Snow, shown in this photo collage. Credit: L. Guo et al./PLOS Genetics 2021/Steve Sykes.”

Elisabeth Bik in New Yorker

The New Yorker published a nice piece on Elisabeth Bik. She has rightly become well-known and respected for her work on scientific integrity. It’s frustrating that so many journals and institutions stonewall both her efforts and those of others who find credible evidence of possible misconduct. Some researchers whose papers she has zeroed in on for issues have been trying to hurt her reputation. However, despite these obstacles, Elisabeth has made a concrete difference for science.

Gecko cancer model

Check out this piece Leopard Gecko Skin Tumors Traced to Cancer Gene from HHMI.

This is a cool story about reptile genetics from Leonid Kruglyak‘s lab. It’s interesting on many levels. It’s cool that reptile pigment mechanisms  are so different. They use crystals, not melanin-like chemicals. The story goes through a mutation linking pigmentation to skin cancer in the geckos, and how Leonid’s lab went down this new research path involving gecko genetics. A confession: I’m a bit jealous of them getting to work with such cool animals. See image above. I don’t get to see many stem cells out in the field.

FDA letter to clinic NatureWorks

Here’s another new FDA untitled letter to yet another stem cell clinic.

As I’ve written in the past, how does the FDA decide whether to send a warning letter, an untitled letter, or another kind of letter? It has sent out more than 400 undefined letters to firms in the stem cell clinic space recently.

How should we think of those letters? I’ve called them “mini-warning letters”, but is that the best way to think of them?

Now that the discretionary period is over as of about 3 weeks ago, are we going to start seeing far more FDA activity on stem cell clinics?

Some recent interesting papers

6 thoughts on “Recommended reads: Bik, FDA letter, gecko cancer model, David Baltimore on COVID origin”

  1. Maybe he’s referring to people who gave talks at ISSCR- everybody gave a talk at ISSCR, so it shouldn’t be seen as an endorsement. However, I can see someone using it as such.

  2. Here is a quote from Yale and Harvard. They also sport the Yale and Harvard Logos to show their affiliations with these institutions.

    What experts say

    “I’ve seen first-hand how these Wharton Jelly Mesenchymal stem cell therapies not only show remarkable results at healing sports and orthopedic injuries but rejuvenate the entire body, modulate the immune system and can help alleviate diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. BioXcellerator’s advanced protocols and therapies are some of the best in the world.”

    Diego Correa, M.D., Ph.D. Yale University & Harvard University

  3. The FDA is a toothless tiger. They’ve managed to shut down one company in almost 4 years as the number of doctors offering stem cell treatments in the US has exploded. They will probably end up winning against Cell Surgical Network but that won’t do much. Untitled letters mean nothing. They are empty threats. Regardless, the ISSCR is promoting autism treatments in Mexico. Harvard and Yale are endorsing treatments in Colombia. So regardless of what happens in the US, good luck.

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