Weekly reads: stem cell-assisted IVF, Takeda MSC trial, reporters getting stem cells

There’s been much discussion about issues related to stem cells in the reproductive space such as human embryo models and differentiating stem cells into gametes, but there’s also interest in stem cell-assisted IVF. In this kind of method, stem cells are employed to make tissue cells such as ovarian stromal cells to support production of oocytes in vitro.

In some cases, pluripotent or other stem cells could be the source of the gametes too, but that’s not the focus of a new article on stem cell-assisted IVF so let’s take a look.

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stem cell-assisted IVF, Dina Radenkovic, Gameto
Dina Radenkovic, CEO of Gameto is in a study by her own company on stem cell-assisted IVF.

Stem cell-assisted IVF

This biotech CEO decided to take her own (fertility) medicine, MIT Tech. This is a great article by Antonio Regalado on cool tech in the works including by a company called Gameto.

This is a high risk, high reward kind of clinical research. It could help boost fertility.

What are the risks?

The eggs produced using engineered ovarian tissue may not be safe to use for IVF, but we might know that until it is tried. There’s a kind of Catch-22 here.

It’s unlikely that differentiation of hIPSCs will produce the full repertoire of normal ovarian cells within which oocytes typically develop. Oocytes produced in a lab via co-culture may seem okay and be able to be fertilized to produce early embryos in a dish that also seem okay, but they may not actually be okay. Even if the co-culture process was pristine from a pathogen perspective, all kinds of other things could go wrong.

Antonio’s article features Dina Radenkovic, Gameto CEO, who participated in her company’s study.

Gameto just published some new research, which probably sparked Antonio’s piece: Human-induced pluripotent stem cell-derived ovarian support cell co-culture improves oocyte maturation in vitro after abbreviated gonadotropin stimulation.

Other recommended reads

Takeda’s stem cell therapy flunks PhIII test studying the drug in Crohn’s disease, Endpoints. Damn, tough headline.  The cellular drug here is Alofisel, an allogeneic adipose MSC product. From the company:

“While we are disappointed with this outcome, we recognize that medical research for difficult-to-treat conditions such as complex CPF remains challenging,” said Chinwe Ukomadu, head of the GI & Inflammation Therapeutic Area Unit at Takeda. “We believe there are valuable lessons to learn from ADMIRE-CD II and are grateful to the patients and investigators who made this important research possible.”

Note that regulators approved Alofisel already in some other countries. Was this new trial more about getting FDA approval?

N.Y.’s first cell and gene therapy hub coming to Roswell Park, Spectrum News.

I wrote this week about a man, Dave Barnett, who died shortly after receiving unproven stem cells from a clinic in Tijuana called the Cellular Performance Institute. Was there a connection between the death and the injections? We may never know.

Reporters getting stem cells

Still, I’m trying to learn more about this Tijuana clinic. In the process, I stumbled on an advertorial from Men’s Health that promoted the clinic. I wonder how much the magazine got paid for the piece? Sadly the writer ended up getting the stem cells himself too.  By the way, an advertorial is a media piece that is not balanced journalism but rather is promotional.

My piece on Barnett’s death has generated a lot of comments including from his brother-in-law and some scientists.

stem cell clinic
Unproven stem cell clinic gets free advertising from “news” article.

Moving on to another clinic story, I’m not going to link to it, but here’s a screenshot of part of an awful article about supposed miraculous results at a stem cell clinic. This is news? Advertorial?

What’s especially bad here is that they are claiming to treat autism with stem cells. Is this FDA compliant?

And, of course, the reporter here is also going to get the “treatment” too.

Earlier this year I wrote about risky stem cell microneedling and a reporter in that case recounted her experience getting the procedure as well.

What the hell? Why are so many journalists getting the unproven cellular “therapies” that they are also covering these days?

1 thought on “Weekly reads: stem cell-assisted IVF, Takeda MSC trial, reporters getting stem cells”

  1. Thanks Paul for the Gameto paper published recently showing iPS-derived ovarian support cells to improve the maturation of human oocytes in vitro. So the hope of making oocytes/ sperm from iPS is shattered. They are only good at providing paracrine support. There are so many papers showing MSCs provide similar paracrine support to help mature oocytes in vitro. So iPS are equivalent to MSCs – my God and so much attention to the study. How are iPS cells superior to the MSCs.

    It is the VSELs that make oocytes in the ovaries (PMID: 34455541) and this present study shows iPS cells are only good to provide paracrine support. There is a need to discuss this good science more closely. I will surely comment in Human Reproduction as well

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