Informational

Informational posts on The Niche are primarily intended to educate readers.

Updates on CRISPR therapy development and clinical trials

When I first heard of CRISPR gene editing I was excited for my lab to try it out, but it seemed a long way from the field having even one CRISPR therapy available to treat human disease. In the Knoepfler lab, we study genetic and genomic programming in human development and disease. Gene editing seemed …

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Clinical utility & examples of unipotent vs. multipotent stem cells

mesenchymal cells

What are examples of unipotent and multipotent stem cells? More broadly, stem cells have the ability to do two key things. They can make more of themselves through a process called self-renewal. Also, they have the ability to differentiate into other cell types. This latter property is called potency. Taken together this means by definition …

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What is Mastodon & why so far it’s a clunky alternative to Twitter

Mastodon

Lately it seems like something called Mastodon is on the minds of many a Twitter user. There is a wave of people tweeting “let’s dump Twitter and go to Mastodon now that Musk has taken over!” However, so far I don’t see Mastodon as a solid alternative to the admittedly annoyingly musky Twitter. I do …

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Germ or sex cells: DNA content, research, clinical applications

sex cells, haploid, diploid, germ cells

Germ or sex cells have many important implications for health and research. In today’s post the goal is to provide a helpful, comprehensive overview of these remarkable cells. Where does research on these cells stand today? It’s an exciting time. What are sex cells?  | Are sex cells haploid or diploid?  | Why are germ cells …

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Digging into the multiple ways to get stem cells

multiple ways to get stem cells

I get great questions from readers of The Niche including, “Are there multiple ways to get stem cells?” The answer is “yes.” Why is this important? The different sources of stem cells can impact both their use in basic research and their potential clinically. My goal in today’s post is to give an overview of …

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Parkinson’s disease stem cell therapy research update

Parkinson's disease stem cell therapy

When I first started The Niche more than a dozen years ago, I hoped we’d see a Parkinson’s disease stem cell therapy by now. A proven one. I was a little too optimistic back then. Now in 2022, I know much better how hard translation to the bedside can be in general. Still, I’m hopeful. …

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What are senolytics? Drugs, activator, supplements, risks

senolytics, senolytic drugs

As we age a higher proportion of our cells end up in a senescent state, which has sparked interest in senolytic drugs and a broader area called senolytics research. The goal of today’s post is to give you an overview of this important area. How much data are there on efficacy or safety? Is the …

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Labeled diagram of the skin & skin stem cells in research

Labeled diagram of the skin

I’ve been teaching Histology here at UC Davis School of Medicine for more than 12 years and I lecture on skin among other topics so I’ve made more than one labeled diagram of the skin over the years. I’ve included some in this post. First, below you can see a zoomed0out view of fingertip with …

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Is unproven stem cell therapy covered by insurance?

Does insurance cover stem cell therapy? Even at clinics? What about coverage from employers?

A common question I hear from readers of The Niche is some version of, “Is stem cell therapy covered by insurance?” Sometimes they also ask about Medicare coverage. To be clear, I’m talking about unproven stem cell “therapies” here. The type clinics sell. It’s not FDA approved so generally insurance companies and Medicare will not …

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‘We don’t want to freak people out’: about that Jacob Hanna human embryo model startup

Jacob Hanna Renewal Bio

Stem cell biologist Jacob Hanna has a new startup called Renewal Bio. Its goal is to harvest cells or tissues from human embryo or fetus models for clinical use. I believe that their commercial ambitions have so far outstripped careful thought and discussion in the broader community of researchers. There are major risks here for …

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