January 18, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Embryonic stem cells

2 min read

Bombshell news in the stem cell field as Ocata Therapeutics (OCAT; formerly Advanced Cell Technology or ACT) is reportedly to be acquired by Astellas Pharma, Inc. The offer for purchase of OCAT will be $8.50/share or almost $380 million. For more details see this detailed PDF from Astellas. This quote on the deal form Ocata: “Paul Wotton, Ph.D., President and CEO, Ocata said, “I am impressed by the vision and commitment of Astellas and believe that with their global resources behind our regenerative platform, patients …Read More

3 min read

The stem cell biotech Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) reported new, positive data in a paper in Lancet from their clinical trials using retinal pigmented epithelial cells (RPEs) made from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) for treatment of different forms of macular degeneration (MD). The paper was entitled “Human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium in patients with age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt’s macular dystrophy: follow-up of two open-label phase 1/2 studies” with first author Steven D. Schwartz and senior author Robert Lanza, CSO of ACT. These two …Read More

4 min read

Just how good are human embryonic stem (ES) cells made by therapeutic cloning via nuclear transfer, with the successful technique first reported by the lab of Shoukhrat Mitalipov at OHSU last year? How do they compare to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells or traditional ES cells made from IVF embryos? A new paper in Nature directly tackles these key questions, but first a bit of context. Three separate groups have now successfully made ES cells using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). I have reviewed those three therapeutic cloning papers …Read More

2 min read

I did a brief email Q&A interview with Dr. Bob Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) on their new hES MSCs pre-clinical data for Multiple Sclerosis. I discussed the paper itself in a concise review yesterday here. Thanks to Dr. Lanza for doing the interview. 1. Were you surprised at the fact that the therapeutic benefit did not require engraftment or even the use of proliferative hES-MSCs? No, not at all.  MSCs usually persist for only a few days or weeks, and exert their …Read More

4 min read

Are MUSE cells for real? Stem cells come in different types that vary in a key property called “potency”, but very few are pluripotent. The more potency, the greater the flexibility of a stem cell to make other cell types. Flexibility in the cellular world is power. The most powerful stem cells generally used are called “pluripotent”, which refers to a special kind of stem cell that can make all 200+ other types of cells in the body through differentiation. Pluripotent stem cells are hard …Read More

2 min read

Occasionally I call out a particularly important comment by a reader on a major issue and today it is commenter Natalie DeWitt (see my earlier interview with her about her experiences at Nature’s The Niche) who has contributed a particularly insightful, knowledgable comment on my recent perspective piece the Cell cloning paper mishap. Many in the stem cell field and beyond have been unsure how to take the news of the problems with the Mitalipov cloning paper in Cell. Are these issues a big deal …Read More

3 min read

Today the US Federal Court of Appeals via a 3-judge panel ruled in favor of continued NIH funding of human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR). The ruling is a setback for pro-life extremists trying to shut down a very promising avenue of stem cell-based regenerative medicine with their lawsuit. It’s a good day for the stem cell field. However, this legal battle is far from over. No champagne or noise makers. Perhaps just a glass of beer. Why? I’ve had several discussions today with …Read More

2 min read

Last year one of the biggest events in the stem cell field was biotech Geron punting its embryonic stem cell (ESC) program. Much consternation followed. Some folks opposed to ESCs happily pronounced ESC research dead. Some folks in favor of ESC thought the world was ending a year early. Others tried to look on the bright side and hoped for a buyer for Geron’s ESC-related assets, but through the grapevine everything I was hearing was that that was not going to happen. Now that …Read More

2 min read

Is Obama bailing out on support for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR)? As even casual readers of this blog easily surmise, I am a supporter of President Obama. I believe he has done a good job in his first term and deserves re-election. I also believe Romney would not be a good president, particularly as it relates to science and stem cell research. However, I have been critical of Obama for not more publicly supporting ESCR, especially as it pertains to the current federal …Read More

3 min read

They say politics makes strange bedfellows….remember the Witherspoon Council? These are the fellows who are the BFFs of the two scientists suing to stop federal funding of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research. They also wrote a large, very stodgy tome about stem cell research, in which they mentioned me and this blog…kinda implying we are, if not shady, at least misguided. But there were some things in their report that I agreed with too. I’m not joking and you can check out my …Read More