January 21, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Antonio Regalado

5 min read

Two prominent scientists, Robin Lovell-Badge and George Daley, have been amongst the most outspoken proponents of leaving the door open to heritable human genetic modification via CRISPR. While they each have articulated their reasons in somewhat different ways at times, their core reasons arguing in favor of future heritable CRISPR appear largely the same. In this post I tackle each of these arguments in favor of leaving the door open to “CRISPR babies” with science-based counterarguments. I also raise larger risks to going down …Read More

4 min read

Reports are out that a scientist in China has been working to make a CRISPR baby for some time and supposedly has made twin genetically modified babies. I see this work as unethical and dangerous. Just a couple years ago when I published my book GMO Sapiens on potential use of CRISPR in a heritable manner in humans, some people said it would only happen decades down the road if at all due to technological issues. I was too worried, they said. Others said no …Read More

5 min read

The news that CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in its current form may not work in a substantial fraction of people due to many of us having immunity to Cas9 came as a shock to many, but if you think about it, maybe it’s not so surprising. I don’t see it as the end of the world. A (preprint) from a group led by Matthew Porteus started this lively discussion a few days ago. The preprint is entitled, “Identification of Pre-Existing Adaptive Immunity to Cas9 Proteins in Humans.” Some people are freaking …Read More

1 min read

Below are 16 Science Twitter accounts that I think are musts to follow for those interested in transformative science and also medicine from a wide range of diverse, thought-provoking perspectives. I could list 160, but I’ve picked these 16 as a nice sampling with a lean towards those willing to take a risk in what they say or with unique views.

1 min read

Here are some cool science reads to enjoy this weekend. Lab-grown sperm made from stem cells can’t swim, but are able to fertilize eggs, reports Eric Boodman over at STAT. Mouse-human neural crest chimeras: Not only a matter of black and white. Clever title. Antonio Regalado writes about a DNA App Store coming soon to a smartphone near you. Jacob Corn has a new piece at the Washington Post entitled, CRISPR will change lives, but not only through genetic engineering. Obokata tallies retraction number three, RetractionWatch …Read More

2 min read

We just ran a CRISPR backronym contest here at the Niche blog. What were we looking for in terms of CRISPR backronyms? We were hoping to see backronyms that were in a sense clever explanations using the letters C, R, I, S, P, R for what CRISPR might “really” stand for if it weren’t Clustered, Regularly, Interspace…you know, the official meaning. We received 58 entries, which were evaluated by the judges: Ben Zimmer, Antonio Regalado, and I. We each scored them separately and then added …Read More

2 min read

Update: you can also enter our contest on Twitter using the hashtag #CRISPRback. Do you like contests, words, science, and cash? Enter our new contest. It’s a backronym contest for CRISPR. The author of the best backronym will win a $50 prize paid by me and fame of course as the winner. The judges will be WSJ columnist Ben Zimmer, Senior Editor at MIT Tech Review Antonio Regalado, and myself. A backronym is like an acronym, but flipped around in the sense that you choose words …Read More

2 min read

I try to catch up on my science reading over the weekends and evenings. Here’s my recommended weekend reading on stem cells & science. Did I miss anything especially cool? Let me know in the comments. Direct reprogramming of skin cells into insulin-producing cells. I love direct reprogramming. Healios and Athersys Enter Into Regenerative Medicine Partnership. Can they together create regen med success? National honor for helping “the blind see” comes from CIRM blog. Fun piece on CRISPR language by Ben Zimmer. ‘Crispr’ Breaks Out Of the Lab. …Read More

1 min read

What’s been up the past week in terms of news in the stem cell world? The Wall Street Journal reports that the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) has signed a 20-year lease on a much larger space, in fact twice the current size, in Manhattan. That would seem to be a great sign of things to come for NYSCF, a fantastic organization led by the wonderful Susan Solomon (pictured in her TED talk), who was quoted that the NYSCF team is growing as well. …Read More

4 min read

In a strange, but fascinating tale recounted by Antonio Regalado in an article over at MIT Tech Review, we hear the first claim of a do-it-yourself (DIY) gene therapy. The owner of a small biotech called BioViva, Elizabeth “Liz” Parrish, reportedly traveled from her home in Seattle to get an unapproved, experimental gene therapy in another country. The article pointed to a Reddit AMA that Parrish recently did where she discussed these events in the context of her interest in anti-aging efforts. Regalado is fairly …Read More