January 26, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

1 min read

CIRM announced today that it had appointed Ellen Feigal, M.D., to be its first VP for Research Development. Dr. Feigal will begin the job on Jan. 31. Dr. Feigal is a graduate of UC Davis Med School (where I am writing this from; go UC Davis SOM!) and is currently Executive Medical Director for Global Development at Amgen. By choosing Dr. Feigal as its new VP, CIRM indicates its interest in moving forward translational research to the clinic and its continuing high level of …Read More

1 min read

As we have blogged before, there are a host of different beliefs about embryonic stem cell research and about when life begins. This diversity of perspectives is sprinkled across the globe. Too often in the U.S. people take an ethnocentric view of this question, believing that everyone else should think the same as they do. There’s an interesting article from Joy Resmovits in Forward that compares attitudes about and funding for embryonic stem cell research in Israel and in the U.S. In the article, …Read More

5 min read

There is a kind of invisible cultural wall between patients such as cancer patients and biomedical scientists like me, but this wall does not have to exist and indeed it is a negative wall as patients, scientists, doctors, agencies, and advocates can achieve far more together than apart. But the wall is surprisingly strong. Last year when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, that wall was broken for me. I was suddenly both scientist and patient at the same time. Now I am both …Read More

2 min read

In 2010 I blogged about the exciting finding that researchers could derive most blood cell types from stem cells. You can read more about that here. Here also is a video of Micky Bhatia discussing the findings: Mick Bhatia on turning skin cells into blood. Now comes a new paper (you can read it here) from a team of researchers led by ACT’s Robert Lanza that reports the production of human platelets from human ES cells. The platelets functioned normally in tests in mice. Of …Read More

1 min read

New California Governor, Jerry Brown, today proposed a 17% cut in funding for the UC System. Such a cut would be devastating to California at many levels including education, research, and competitiveness. The UC System is already under extraordinary stress from recent budget cuts that have inflicted serious injury upon the system. The new Governor’s proposed additional deep cuts would be disastrous. UC leaders responded today and articulated the serious implications of Brown’s misguided proposal. UC President Yudof remarked that the cuts would result …Read More

2 min read

Yesterday I wrote about how difficult it is to tell different cell lines apart, including normal stem cells and cancer stem cells, especially since some accumulate accumulate oncogenic mutations that may make them seem more similar. A new paper is coming out that makes this case on a genomic level. Tomorrow’s Cell Stem Cell edition includes a paper by a team of researchers led by Jeanne Loring that has identified relatively small genomic abnormalities in ESC and iPS cells. While both ESC and iPS …Read More

3 min read

What makes stem cells different? The stem cell field is faced with a dilemma as stem cells and some non-stem cells are sometimes too similar to tell apart. Even worse, stem cells and cancer cells are especially similar. If one focuses specifically on cancer stem cells (aka tumor initiating cells), the similarity between cancer stem cells and normal stem cells is even more pronounced. From the point of view of the old expression “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, …Read More

2 min read

In this post I give my most interesting predictions about events in the stem cell field in 2011. Update: I’ve continuing doing predictions every year all the way through 2020 and intend to continue. See my 2012-2020 predictions here. Appeals court rules in favor of federally funded hESC research. This is more of a hope than a prediction, but I think there is a better than 50% chance of getting good news on this front. In either case, the decision is appealed to the …Read More

1 min read

Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) announced that the FDA has approved their second human ES cell-based clinical trial, a combined Phase I/II, for the treatment of blindness. As a result, soon ACT will have two active, human ES cell-based clinical trials, both using the same human ES cell-based drug. The aim of the 2nd trial is to treat Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration, a condition that affects tens of millions of people. The primary objective of both trials is to determine the safety of the stem …Read More

2 min read

Cancer patients and their doctors face daunting challenges at the time of diagnosis. Many crucial questions either cannot be answered or rely upon relatively low-tech methods whose accuracy is far from ideal. For example, how aggressive is this tumor? Has it already spread? After diagnosis and initial treatment, it is critical to monitor patients for recurrence, but for decades there have not been adequate tools to do this for most cancers. Thus, patients and their doctors are often left to wonder if their cancer …Read More