June 3, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

science policy

3 min read

About once each year or two, I try to schedule what I call a “big picture” lab meeting where my lab and I discuss major issues related to being a scientist. Also, I try to answer their questions about just about anything. In my lab we rotate between various lab meeting formats and also have a journal club, but it’s worth taking up one slot for this big picture meeting where we just talk. At the big picture lab meeting, we some times end …Read More

4 min read

What happens if we mix stem cells with populism? From a populist view of stem cells, everyday patients should be able to do nearly anything they want with stem cells without any governmental interference or excessive expense. Even stem cells not proven to be safe or effective. This can sound like an appealing idea to patients looking for hope and also to some companies looking for profits. Stem cell populism poses serious questions and risks too. What exactly is “populism”? The Internet defines it …Read More

2 min read

I started The Niche blog in largely its current form early in 2010, and now 7+ years later we’ve hit two big milestones recently. First, about a month ago, we reached 10,000 comments made on the blog. Thanks for being involved in the discussion on the Niche blog! Second, we reached 7,000,000 total page views on the Niche. Considering early on, we were getting something like 7 readers a day, to get to seven million is quite something. It’s been an exciting, wild ride …Read More

6 min read

Are fat stem cells a drug? Today the FDA definitively indicated “yes” without leaving much of any room for exceptions on this question. This morning the FDA made a major announcement on stem cell policy regarding its current thinking on oversight of regenerative medicine and issued four guidances, including two each in final and in draft form. There will be a 90-day comment period for the latter. Are today’s developments a good thing overall? I’d say “yes”, although there are still some ambiguities and …Read More

3 min read

On one level a reasonable argument can be made for letting terminally ill patients have a right to try experimental as yet unproven therapies, but in the real world Right-To-Try laws have many downsides. On the whole, they are likely to be negative for patients as a group.  Raising the stakes is a push for a federal Right-To-Try law in the U.S. A bill passed the U.S. Senate so a law is a real possibility in coming months. What are the problems and risks? …Read More

2 min read

There is a scientist’s dilemma: should you speak out on important, sometimes controversial issues in science, where you not only can potentially have positive impact, but also risk being attacked for it? Or do you remain silent? I’ve now been blogging for more than 7 years. I’ve battled the often exploitive for-profit stem cell clinics for years. But it goes beyond that. I’ve also worked against hype including sometimes that in the academic arena. For instance, in early 2015 I posted a probing review …Read More