A TGIF weekend reading list of new stem cell pubs & headlines

In case you have some free time for reading this week, here’s a list containing an assortment of interesting research articles and stem cell headlines. I’ve thrown some oddballs in there too including one article from May 1983, when I was just finishing up junior high. No, I didn’t write it. And no the headline for this current blog post is not referring to stem cell-themed pubs where you can go get some ale made from stem cells, but that’s not a bad idea, right?

Yeah, it’s been one of those long, busy weeks and it’s only Friday. And from the TGIF archives a piece from last year including stem cell soup, Kim Kardashian, and zombies.

And now the list.

PNAS, Butts, Et al. Figure 5H 2017

Newsy pieces

Research & other journal articles

And the one from 1983, Stem Cell is a Stem Cell is a Stem Cell. But is it? This reminds me of a fake journal name I came up with some time ago I imagine someone doing as a knockoff of the real top stem cell journal Cell Stem Cell. The fake journal name?

Stem Cell Stem Cell

My whole crazy list of fake and maybe future real stem cell journals with wacky names is here. Good for a laugh.

Washington State considers stem cell regenerative medicine funding

Washington State is considering state funding for regenerative medicine. How cool is that? You can read more about this effort in an opinion piece authored by Washington stem cell researcher, Professor Charles Murry.ISCRM Washington stem cells

There’s so much important stem cell research going on that federal funding, private and biotech investors, and philanthropy simply cannot fund it all so in many cases state funding can fulfill a crucial role as we’ve seen here in California with CIRM and in other states such as New York and Maryland.

Now Washington is working to make this a reality there too. Murry, the Director of the UW Medicine’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM), makes a convincing case for moving forward on this new state stem cell funding effort. He uses the example of regenerative medicine research on cardiac regeneration, but mentions other important areas too.

What is the UW looking for in the way of the funding and what will it do with it?

“the UW seeks $6 million in operating funds from the Legislature, starting with the next biennium, to recruit and retain top scientists, fund promising results at early stages, and train young researchers and clinicians.”

You can see the core faculty at the ISCRM here.

I grew up in Seattle and did my postdoc at the Hutch so I know how great the UW is and have met some of the wonderful stem cell researchers there.

I hope Washington State approves this and makes stem cell state funding there a regular occurrence as it would be a big boost to the ISCRM and their cool stem cell research.

My 2017 New Year’s Stem Cell Resolution

CIRM is doing a fun, positive challenge to the stem cell community to post stem cell resolutions for the new year. You can read more about it here.

Be sure if you post yours on Twitter to include the #StemCellResolution hashtag. Have fun!

Below is my resolution in video form.

Top 20 Stem Cell Predictions for 2017

stem cell crystal ball

Stem cell crystal ball

Each year I make a list of predictions for the stem cell and regenerative medicine field for the coming new year. Later in this post I list my top 20 stem cell predictions for 2017. In looking at my past predictions I realized this will now be my 7th year doing stem cell/regenerative medicine yearly predictions.

You can see below links to these predictions for past years, which sometimes seems rather far removed from today and in other cases strike me as strangely apropos of our times.

What will 2017 bring? Below are my top 20 predictions in no particular order except starting with a few hopeful visions for the coming year.

Continue reading

Top 10 reasons for optimism on Stem Cell Awareness Day 2016

Happy Stem Cell Day!

It is a tumultuous time for the stem cell and regenerative medicine fields, but despite this there are concrete reasons for optimism on this Stem Cell Awareness Day. I’ve listed my top 10 below. What else gives you a sense of optimism? You can also check out CIRM’s nifty stem cell awareness day page too, from which I borrowed the below image.stem-cell-awareness-day-2016

  1. More trials = road to progress. There are more real, robust clinical trials than ever and they are progressing past the early phases in some cases. The trials are piling up and while not all will succeed, some will. Keep an eye open for the for-profit, non-FDA-approved ones and steer people away from those.
  2. We are seeing a flow of clinical trial data too pointing to encouraging outcomes, but also to challenges to overcome (witness the preclinical study on IPSC for heart attacks that found efficacy but also arrhythmias). With that kind of awareness such hurdles can be overcome in many cases as the work progresses.
  3. The FDA held public meetings on stem cells. We can grouch about certain things about these meetings and we can ding the FDA for various issues, but it never before has engaged with the community like this on stem cells so it’s a good thing.
  4. Stem cells firing on all cylinders: adult and pluripotent. Adult stem cell trials are building, but so now are pluripotent ones. The best way to help the most people in the long run is with all the tools (types of cells) we can utilize. The notion of “adult versus embryonic”, for instance, as some sort of cosmic battle seems out of date. We need both and also IPSC as well as other types as yet to come.
  5. The stem cell clinic problem out in the open. Never before has there been this much information and awareness out there on the problem of stem cell clinics taking advantage of vulnerable people. For instance, see my recent article with Leigh Turner and the one from John Rasko’s group. I believe awareness will translate into action for the positive.
  6. Putting the fun back in funding? NIH funding trends are looking at least slightly better overall which will help with stem cell research. CIRM is continuing its life extension and will fund many more projects in years to come. Other states are funding stem cell research too. It’s still a bad time for funding but the trend lines are at least moving the right way.
  7. Much more educational outreach on stem cells. When I started blogging about stem cells in early 2010 it was very quiet out there on the Internet in terms of those of us trying to educate a wider community in a positive manner. That’s really changed now with quite a few blogs that at least touch on stem cells and a number entirely dedicated to stem cells and regenerative medicine. This is a positive change and it means the public has more resources than ever to learn about stem cells.
  8. IPSC clinically-relevant work is looking up. It was a decade ago that IPSC cells were “born” and there were great expectations. Now 10 years later there are tangible signs that these cells will have lasting, huge impact including both from disease modeling and more recently via potential future clinical use.
  9. Stem cells meet CRISPR and…boom! Okay so everyone is nuts about CRISPR no matter what kind of cells they study including me, but CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing combined with stem cells in particular equals great potential both for new insights such as into human development and also potentially clinically through designer stem cells.
  10. Stem cell biotechs & stocks hanging in there. It has always been tough going for stem cell biotechs and that is likely to continue quite a while longer, but many are hanging in there and could surprise you down the road. Others have been acquired by pharma companies or inked collaborative deals in the last year or so. In the long run some of these companies are going to change medicine.