Regenerative reads: 3 CRISPR babies, FDA warning, diabetes, pubs

If you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday I hope you had a nice one and, right before it started a new article popped on the scene about the CRISPR babies.

Before we discuss those three gene-edited people, who are now growing up into little kids, we hit a milestone on our YouTube Stem Cell Channel with 300 subscribers.

Check it out and please subscribe. You can see my latest video below fact-checking the idea of stem cells for hair loss.  Can cell therapies help baldness? Not now but maybe in the future based on the state of the research. Maybe with a combination of gene-editing and cell therapy?

Those 3 CRISPR babies

Okay, the new human heritable gene-editing piece is from Nature and it is called The CRISPR children. 

It is focused on the three CRISPR gene-edited children produced by He Jiankui.

CRISPR baby illustration. Paul Knoepfler on The Niche.

I’m not quite sure what I think of this story.

It provides some new possible info, but much of it is speculation. Different people quoted in the piece seem to either be very concerned about the situation or be somewhat downplaying it.

It’s like an ethics and genomics onion with so many layers.

The CRISPR babies’ right to privacy. The parents’ situations.

Possible off-target and on-target deleterious effects. Chimerism.

The odds (if any) of conferring resistance to HIV infection, which seem overstated in the article at least once.

Check out the Nature feature piece and let me know what you think.

FDA warning

A new FDA warning letter was issued to Surgenex, a firm producing and selling umbilical cord cells. FDA inspectors visited the firm back in April and found problems, which ultimately led to this warning.

The issues include that the product is an unapproved drug as well as numerous manufacturing problems.

What’s in a stem cell clinic name ending with “x”?

As a side note it’s interesting how similar many clinic-related firm names sound.

Many apparently like an “x” sounding end to their names for some unknown reason. Celltex. Stemedix. There was Stemgenex. Regenexx is all over the place. And there are many others with “x” endings. Sounds high-tech or something? Of course, for Celltex it is referring to “Texas”.

NYT stem cells for diabetes piece has some issues

A somewhat overexuberant NY Times piece on Vertex’s N=1 diabetes result: A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked.

Using the word “cure” in a header is always risky. I’ve written before about this early Vertex work on stem cells for diabetes. It’s interesting but super early days.

I have some other concerns about this NYT article including its failure to mention any of the other work in the stem cells for diabetes arena. This gap includes the efforts of ViaCyte, a biotech that is arguably in some ways a couple of years ahead of the work that is the focus of the article.

Regenerative Medicine pubs

3 thoughts on “Regenerative reads: 3 CRISPR babies, FDA warning, diabetes, pubs”

  1. Maybe I am reading your material wrong but it seems like you have less of a problem with scientists creating frankenbabies than you have with patients getting amniotic fluid injected in their knees or bone marrow. I am speculating, but my guess is there are far more Crispr babies than ones that make it into scientific journals. And the prices are probably into the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions. Do you have less of an issue with scientists playing god than doctors trying to give patients a surgical alternative?

    1. @Dan,
      No, you’ve got it very wrong. I’m opposed to creating CRISPR babies and was one of the first scientists to call for a moratorium on using CRISPR in human embryos with reproductive intent back in 2015. I also did a TED talk about this back around that time. Check it out. It’s also worth noting that my main opposition to specific examples of using amniotic fluid or other materials for joint injections is that they simply are not proven to work. If good data were there on safety and efficacy, I’d be fine with that kind of use of amniotic fluid or bone marrow, etc. as long as it wasn’t oversold like a cure for everything or having zero risk.

  2. I read the Nature paper and I was annoyed, simply a lot of writing and no information, and I agree that the HIV-resistance was overplayed.

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