The paper of the week is from Science on making ovarian follicles and actual eggs from stem cells. It’s just in mice, but this line of work tends to stir people up. We’ll dive into that in a moment.
But first some good news.
We’re up to 146 subscribers on our stem cell YouTube channel so I’m issuing a call to please subscribe toward our next goal of having 250 subscribers. Below is my latest video on an overview of the idea of stem cell therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.
The point of this YouTube channel is educational outreach. You might be surprised (or maybe not) at the vast sea of cruddy stem cell video content on YouTube. A big fraction of it is promotional for stem cell clinics. We need to change that reality. Even though Google has banned stem cell ads from its search results, YouTube (which is owned by Google) hosts a huge array of basically free stem cell ads as videos for clinics. It’s pretty awful.
Now onto our weekly reads. As always, there’s been a lot going on in the regenerative medicine and stem cell space in the past week or so.
Stem cell produced gametes
This area of research is not quite as new anymore, but it never seems to stop shocking some folks. What’s so unsettling? The idea that human reproduction might be successfully completed entirely using stem cells instead of the old fashioned way. The new paper is entitled, “Generation of ovarian follicles from mouse pluripotent stem cells.”
This kind of thing has been done before, but what seems unique this time is that all the components came from mouse ES cells.
Could it work in humans? What would be the ethical and societal implications? Proponents point toward possible fertility treatments, but I see more risk than possible benefit here. For one thing, if applied with a reproductive intent in humans, it would ease the use of heritable CRISPR gene editing, including some that might be misguided. Imagine the next He Jiankui, but he doesn’t need an IVF clinic or to allegedly forge approval documents for that. He just makes human embryos with stem cells. Yikes.
More reads on stem cells & regenerative medicine
- No benefit from PRP treatment for patients with debilitating Achilles tendon pain, Medical Express. Stem cell clinics are more into PRP than ever, in part because it is so cheap and easy to make, but can still be sold for a few thousand bucks a pop. The literature is also all over the place as to whether it has any benefit. Here’s another new paper saying there’s no benefit and the patients getting PRP actually fared worse early on.
- WHO Human Genome Editing Recommendations, WHO. I haven’t had time to read the whole thing here. Anyone have any initial reactions? How does it compare to ISSCR leaving the door open to heritable human genome editing in the future?
- Niche stiffening compromises hair follicle stem cell potential during ageing by reducing bivalent promoter accessibility, Nature Cell Bio. This paper is very interesting to connect the niche to chromatin.
- Already sitting on a major stem cell bank, Generate looks to grow its regenerative medicines business, Endpoints. What do you think about such stem cell banking? Endpoints reports that Generate has been acquiring quite a few cord blood banking firms.