Weekly reads: Mammoth De-extinction update, space babies, Alzheimer’s, MSCs don’t help knees

What’s more important than Woolly Mammoth de-extinction research in the stem cell arena? Only maybe a 10,000 other things.

Still, the mammoth de-extinction efforts  capture people’s attention much more than the average research story.

George Church De Extinction Mammoth
George Church with Mammoth bone as part of de-extinction effort. Photo by Church lab member Eriona Hysolli.

Mammoth De-extinction update

Is de-extinction only a pipette dream? This startup has a big, expensive plan to find out, Popular Science. I’ve written before about George Church’s project to bring back Woolly Mammoths.

I still think it’s a lousy plan even if it’s fun to think about in a bubble but not in the real world. In reality, there are many ugly outcomes possible.

It might be a moot point because the way things are going so slowly, there’s a solid chance this particular de-extinction will never happen. George and I might need to be de-extincted ourselves by the time a real Woolly Mammoth could be brought back.

The firm Colossal Biosciences keeps ‘watering down’ the creature it might create to the point it wouldn’t be a Mammoth.  No tusks. limited Mammoth DNA, etc. Probably more like an odd, maybe sickly hybrid elephant.  Bad idea.

Other recommended reads

6 thoughts on “Weekly reads: Mammoth De-extinction update, space babies, Alzheimer’s, MSCs don’t help knees”

  1. Trans Ova Genetics is an animal cloning company with experience in interspecies host development for endangered and rare species. Some aspects of this process is doable. I do not envy the team tasked to do it.

  2. Thanks for posting the clinical trial results. They captured in one trial 3 of the popular sources of mesenchymal cells and the corticosteroid injection standard of care. They were all the same, with short term appearance of improvement, which could be a physical “washing” effect. and no change in degenerative state of the knees. The data can’t be interpreted in any other way. This should be the last word against using MSCs for arthritic knees and remove any doubt that MSCs don’t work. I wonder how the unregulated clinics will get around these facts.

  3. Dear Admin:

    The authors of the Emory OA study published in Nature Medicine chose to pose their study as addressing the question, “Are cell-based therapies SUPERIOR to the standard of care of corticosteroid injections for OA knees?” So, their proposition was rejected. However, with the same study, if they had posed it as addressing the question, “Are cell-based therapies EQUIVALENT to the standard of care of corticosteroid injections for OA knees?” then their proposition would have been supported. The latter is the more important perspective from the study that dictates further evaluations. One view is that, if the cell-based therapies work as well, there may be biological factors whose optimization could improve the therapies. Of course, the other view, as alluded to by the authors because of the described high “saline placebo” effect for OA knee treatments, perhaps neither the cell therapies nor the corticosteroids are providing any significant effect or clinical benefit.

    James @ Asymmetrex®

    1. Ross A Macdonald

      Nice to see some balance in this discussion James @ Asymmetrex, particuarly in the face of Paul’s headline “…MSCs don’t help knees…”! It is also worth noting that there was NO saline control in this study so alluding to a saline placebo effect in the context of THIS study is not appropriate. Moreover, it is well known that the rate of joint degeneration in OA, on average, is slow, and therefore a longer observation period would be preferable. Cynata’s ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial in OA using a highly consistent and potent iPSC-MSC product is more likely than the Mautner et al study to be able to address the question of efficacy in knee OA.

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