Human embryo CRISPR pub includes plagiarism: the victim’s unique account

PlagiarismCut, modify, paste…

It’s kind of a CRISPR mantra for those of us using gene editing in the lab. But it’s supposed to be happening just on DNA, right?

Now it appears that someone on a team of human embryo CRISPR researchers possibly got carried away with the cutting-modifying-pasting mindset to take it beyond DNA to also do so with passages of another researcher’s published work that they apparently slightly modified and put into their own paper without any acknowledgement.

The 2016 article in question containing plagiarized passages was published by the lab of senior author Yong Fan with first author Xiangjin Kang, and was entitled, “Introducing precise genetic modifications into human 3PN embryos by CRISPR/Cas-mediated genome editing”. I blogged about the science and bigger picture policy issues of the Kang, et al. article last year here including the technical challenges of CRISPR’ing human embryos. Now the Erratum to the Kang piece in the journal JARG indicates that text plagiarism took place. I’ve included the entire Erratum near the bottom of this blog post.

Who got plagiarized? Continue reading

SCOPE 2017: learn about stem cells in your own language

I’ve been working on an outreach program I call the Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Outreach Program for Education (SCOPE).stem cells languages

The idea behind SCOPE is to make available on the Internet a basic page of facts about stem cells in as many languages as possible.

Our motto could be articulated as “Stem cells not lost in translation!”

Stem cells are a topic that concerns the people of the world, not just certain countries or certain people speaking only in certain languages.

SCOPE has been a big hit and as the number of languages has grown, the number of page views of my white paper “What are stem cells?” in languages besides English has skyrocketed. For example, our page in Spanish has received about 3,000 views, while the pages in Chinese and Japanese are not far behind. Vietnamese and Polish views are skyrocketing.

We are getting readers from all over the world who appreciate reading about stem cells in their own languages.

We now have the stem cell white paper in the following 32 languages (listed alphabetically with links in each specific language).

A big thank you goes to our volunteer translators!

If you can help with an additional translation in another language please email me at: knoepfler@ucdavis.edu

It’s a great thing to put on your CV for outreach and education, areas that many funding agencies including for fellowships are now looking for when evaluating applicants!

Risky Pro-Stem Cell Clinic Bills Still Alive in Texas Legislature

The Texas Legislature is considering three risky bills that would give free rein to stem cell clinics to profit big time off of patients by selling unproven and unapproved “stem cell treatments” that have little if any science behind them. I call one of these bills “Right to Profit” for clinics, which if these became law could get millions from vulnerable patients and potentially block patient rights.Texas Representative Drew Springer

Some of these bills including HB 810 reportedly got a boost from emotional, teary-eyed testimony from Texas Representative Drew Springer (photo from Texas State Directory), who talked about his wife being paralyzed and how stem cells via these bills would help her. From the Dallas News:

“Maybe my wife will walk,” said Springer, whose wife is Lydia paralyzed from the waist down from a diving accident. The next bill on the calendar would affect experimental stem-cell treatments.

“I’ll be damned if we don’t have a chance tonight that would open the doors to science,” he said.

In large numbers, Republicans flanked Springer at the front of the chamber. The GOP rebels relented, letting the stem-cell bill win tentative approval.”

I wish all the best to Springer and his wife. Unfortunately, these bills have little to do with actual stem cell science.

The bills aren’t fully passed by the Texas House yet as they at least must get through another vote and then even if they survive there, they have to get through the Texas Senate, but unfortunately this is a move forward for the bills.

Stem Cell Blog Reader Survey, Free Swag

stem cell t-shirtEvery few years I do a survey of you guys so I can have a better sense of my blog’s readership. For that purpose, below I’ve got two polls to ask you (1) about your general backgrounds and (2) preferences about post content.

Because some people may want to vote more than once on the types of posts they like the most, I’ve allowed re-voting on that poll.

Free stuff? Those who participate and leave a comment or email me to indicate they did (knoepflerATucdavisDOTedu) will be entered in a drawing for one bundle of free swag: a stem cell t-shirt and signed copies of my two books.

New Yamanaka interview gives key insights into future of IPS cells

Shinya yamanaka

Wikipedia photo

Where is the field of IPS cells going and how will this impact the overall field of stem cell-based regenerative medicine?

Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka, the discoverer of IPS cells, gave a really interesting recent interview to Nikkei that provides some fascinating insights into the future of this exciting technology that is now more than a decade old.

For simplicity I have indicated top highlights from the Yamanaka interview below as bullet points.

  • More IPS cell trials are on track to start as soon as 2018 in Japan.
  • Yamanaka said that trials for Parkinson’s, Spinal Cord Injury, and Heart Disease are amongst the planned IPS cell trials in Japan.
  • There are also plans for clinical studies on cancer and kidney disease, perhaps further down the road such as 2019-2020?
  • Immune rejection and cancer risks must still be evaluated, he said.
  • There are likely to be important differences in the new studies versus use in the eye.
  • CiRA has started working with Takara on QC of IPS cells and products.
  • Their main focus for all these trials still seems on allogeneic use from IPS cell banks.

It will be interesting to see how trials in Japan develop versus those in other countries such as here in the US where I know of planned autologous IPS cell clinic efforts.