January 26, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

3 min read

As the year comes to a close this week, it is a good time to look back on 2010 and consider the major events in the stem cell field and give out awards. Stem Cell Event of the Year. I would give this award as a dual prize to Geron and Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) for them receiving FDA approval to begin their hESC-based clinical trials for spinal cord injury and blindness respectively. Both Geron and ACT have made history. Hopefully they will receive …Read More

2 min read

My lab studies iPS cells. We are excited about iPS cells and they have enormous potential. However, there are some realities about iPS cells related to safety that impede our ability to use them to treat patients any time soon. We must solve these roadblocks before we can move forward, but interestingly, these facts are only rarely discussed. 1) During iPS cell formation, many non-iPS cell colonies are created side-by-side in the same dish and many of them are composed of cancer cells. As …Read More

2 min read

The DC Appeals Court hears oral arguments today in the case over whether the federal government can legally fund embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. At stake are dozens of research projects that could provide treatments or cures for millions of Americans. Reportedly, an amicus brief to the court has been filed on behalf of Associate Professor Maureen L. Condic of the University of Utah. Dr. Condic argues, much the same as plaintiff in the case James Sherley, that the issue of when life begins …Read More

2 min read

I first published this a year ago, but with the 2012 election coming up, I think it is even more relevant today. In the debate over funding for embryonic stem cell research, it is usually assumed that Democrats are in favor of embryonic stem cell research and that Republicans are opposed. But recent polls suggest that amongst the U.S. population as a whole, most political and religious groups are widely in favor of embryonic stem cell research. So why the perception that Republicans are …Read More

1 min read

Sheng Ding’s lab reports today in Cell Stem Cell (you can read it here) that they have replaced all genetic factors in a new iPS cell reprogramming method except Oct4. The other factors were replaced by chemical compounds. Thus, we continue a major transition in the iPS cell field away from genes and toward chemicals. This work is very exciting. Even with the advent of totally RNA-based iPS cell formation, progress toward a completely chemical approach is quite important. Many believe that an entirely …Read More

2 min read

It happens several times a month these days. Some new, interesting paper comes out on IPS cells or on transdifferentiation. Immediately, opponents of ES cell research criminally twist the findings in the new paper and produce ‘news’ headlines that pop up high on Google to the effect that ES cells are now ‘obsolete’. IPS cells are phenomenally exciting and I do research on them myself, but we know a lot less about them than we do ES cells and it is likely to be …Read More

4 min read

What is the best way to get new stem cell-based therapies to the millions of patients who need help? I would argue that this is the key question in the field of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Sometimes I think it is easy for folks to lose sight of that and fall into traps. *One trap is linear thinking. In a recent post I used a car analogy to compare different types of stem cells and asked a question about getting from ‘point …Read More

5 min read

It has been a rollercoaster few months between the anti-hESC court cases as well as Geron and Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) receiving the OK from the FDA to proceed with initial clinical trials of stem cell treatments. It’s OK to be excited about the clinical trials and I for one am, but we have to avoid getting ahead of ourselves or having unrealistic expectations moving forward. So let’s take a breather and do some analysis of where we are and the road ahead. As …Read More

1 min read

The FDA has given Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) the go ahead to begin their clinical trial using retinal progenitor cells derived from hESC by clearing the company’s IND application, bringing hope to those with vision loss and even blindness. The trial will be a combined Phase I/II to treat Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy and has huge implications for the treatment of blindness more generally. The FDA approval is a big boost for the small stem cell-based biotech company and in turn gives hope to millions …Read More