January 25, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

journal club

3 min read

There’s much more to CRISPR-Cas9 than just gene editing and a new paper from the lab of Rudy Jaenisch in Cell highlights that in an exciting way. It reports epigenetic reversal of a Fragile X Syndrome phenotype in induced pluripotent stem cell (IPSC) neurons. Fragile X Syndrome is a neurological disorder in boys resulting from CGG repeat expansions in the regulatory region of the FMR1 gene and associated epigenetic alterations including DNA methylation that tend to shut off gene expression. The new paper, Liu, et al., …Read More

4 min read

CRISPR and IPS cells are two of my favorite things so when they come together as in a cool, new paper from Sheng Ding’s lab, I’m excited to read it and curious as to what the scoop is. Since 2006-2007 when mouse and human reprogramming were first reported, many different methods have been explored to make induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells. Along the way we’ve all learned quite a lot about how pluripotency is regulated, whether it is in the context of maintenance or …Read More

5 min read

Is there a stem cell connection between the brain and aging? Could a type of brain stem cell or the exosomes it secretes control whole body aging? A recent big Nature article from the lab of Dongcheng Cai argues an emphatic “Yes” to these questions, at least in mice. In the Zhang, et al paper, entitled “Hypothalamic stem cells control ageing speed partly through exosomal miRNAs”, their team reports the claim that a narrow population of hypothalamic stem cells are directly fighting aging of the …Read More

4 min read

In the same way perhaps that some excited relatives or parents-to-be both gush and worry about a baby before it is even born, our field has been transfixed for a week by the Mitalipov paper on CRISPR’ing human embryos even though the paper just now came out. Now that the paper is out, we can take a closer look at this “baby” and for us scientists that involves giving it a critical review. In science, “critical” often means a thorough once over with a …Read More

3 min read

A new, brief study in mice from the Vinit Mahajan lab argues CRISPR can have very large numbers of off-target sites. Their paper is entitled “Unexpected mutations after CRISPR–Cas9 editing in vivo” and was published in Nature Methods.This work has garnered a lot of attention in the media. Let’s take a journal club review kind of approach to this pub. In this paper there were two major reported findings. First, the number of reported CRISPR-associated mutations in the two mice studied (versus one control) were high, over a …Read More

4 min read

A new Cell paper from Juan Carlos Izpisua Berlmonte’s group has made headlines about anti-aging across the globe because it suggests that the four core induced pluripotent stem cell (IPSC) factors use by Shinya Yamanaka to make IPSC can reverse aging. I’ve pasted the graphical abstract from the paper below and done a quick journal club style overview based on a quick skim of the paper. Some of the media headlines are rather dramatic on this story. For instance, in a story on it over at STAT …Read More

4 min read

The number of people around the world being injected with stem cells every day has never been higher and the heterogeneous group of medical providers doing these procedures is also at or near its highest level ever. The cells used are also highly variable as are the procedures themselves, but most of these cells fall under the umbrella of mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSC). The field needs to learn more about these MSC procedures in terms of safety and efficacy. Preliminary, relatively small and most often open label …Read More

6 min read

In a new, thought-provoking paper today in Nature, Shoukhrat Mitalipov and a multi-institutional team report a significant advance toward potential novel ways to treat mitochondrial diseases. What are these illnesses? Mitochondrial diseases are rare, but devastating disorders caused by genetic mutations. Today they are largely impossible to treat in meaningful ways other than palliative care. Some of the mutations causing these diseases are in nuclear DNA, while others are in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). The main current approach to prevention is preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) …Read More

1 min read

Cell biology research never ceases to surprise with its innovations. Here are four recent papers that strike me as interesting. YAP1 Regulates OCT4 Activity and SOX2 Expression to Facilitate Self-Renewal and Vascular Mimicry of Stem-Like Cells. Stem Cells. Namrata Bora-Singhal, Jonathan Nguyen, Courtney Schaal, Deepak Perumal, Sandeep Singh, Domenico Coppola and Srikumar Chellappan. High burden and pervasive positive selection of somatic mutations in normal human skin.  Science. Iñigo Martincorena, Amit Roshan, Moritz Gerstung, Peter Ellis, Peter Van Loo, Stuart McLaren, David C. Wedge, Anthony Fullam, Ludmil B. Alexandrov, …Read More

3 min read

A new paper in Science by Bert Vogelstein suggests that a good part of cancer is attributable to bad luck. There are so many big questions about cancer. They resonate with me very strongly as a cancer researcher and a cancer survivor myself (more on my cancer story here). What really causes cancer? Why does it feel sometimes like we are struggling so much in the “War on Cancer”? What is the role of stem cells in cancer and are there “cancer stem cells“? …Read More