January 21, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

GMO Sapiens

3 min read

Something called, “The International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing” has issued a new report on heritable human genome editing (HHGE). The Commission was convened by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.K.’s Royal Society. This post is my initial take on the summary of the lengthy report. I hope to have time to read the full report in coming weeks and it’s possible some new perspectives may emerge. Here is my thinking as …Read More

2 min read

My daughter Julie and I have written a book together entitled,  “How to Build a Dragon or Die Trying, A satirical look at cutting edge science.” The book will be out sometime in June most likely. This is a very different kind of book than my first two, Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide and GMO Sapiens. In How to Build a Dragon we, first of all, take a satirical tone as highlighted by the subtitle. We are somewhat poking fun at science hype in …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

3 min read

Stem cells are always in the news so what’s up in the last week or two? CIRM News The dialogue over CIRM’s future is picking up a bit of steam. The San Francisco Chronicle did an in-depth piece on CIRM some weeks back and then opined that they didn’t feel supportive of another round of funding. I disagree. I think CIRM is a good future investment for California, but as a past CIRM grantee and stem cell advocate my opinion is probably not a …Read More

3 min read

“If I’m going to the trouble of cloning myself, I want the clone to be a copy of me!” I’m imagining what someone might say if they were told that their expensive and ethically dubious personal cloning efforts produced a clone that was somebody else instead of them. Even if the clone was very similar to the clonee, perhaps like a sibling who was nearly but not quite an identical twin, the clonee might be totally PO’d. When I think about “human “cloning” I …Read More

4 min read

Is monkey cloning a good idea? We’re about to find out. A new Cell paper today reports the first cloning of monkeys via somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), raising many questions. The paper from a team led by Qiang Sun is entitled, “Cloning of Macaque Monkeys by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer.” The highlight bullet points from the paper are the following: “•Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) using fetal fibroblasts yielded two live monkeys •Epigenetic modulators promoted development and pregnancy rate of SCNT embryos •SCNT …Read More

9 min read

Human germline CRISPR raises major bioethical considerations, but what about technical issues? Setting aside the many ethical issue about the general idea of human modification itself, could this really work? Yes in theory it could, but there are some very tough technological challenges that could and likely would cause failures or unacceptable outcomes at many steps along the way. These failures or unacceptable outcomes could easily involve real, live people who could be harmed or die. It’s very different than simple in vitro research so …Read More

1 min read

Want $250 as well as at least a sliver of science-related glory? Within my book GMO Sapiens on CRISPR and human genetic modification, I’ve hidden a scientific Easter egg. There’s more Easter egg info over here including the rules. If you are the first one to find and properly explain this egg to me after buying the book, you win $250. I had originally limited it to the print edition, but e-version purchase is fine too. So far no one has gotten the hidden egg right. To give people …Read More

1 min read

I got a package from my publisher and upon opening it I saw the Korean edition of my book GMO Sapiens on the potential use of CRISPR in humans. The English language edition can be purchased here at the publisher where you can get 35% using the discount code WS16XMAS35 until January 15th or here on Amazon. This is really exciting. I don’t speak Korean, but it was interesting to see the cover and how the book turned out in Korean. The cover art on the …Read More

3 min read

Last year I heard from several sources that there somewhere between 3-5 unpublished manuscripts reporting the use of CRISPR gene targeting in human embryos being shopped around at various journals in addition to the one that had been published. Since that time we’ve seen a grand total of one additional paper reporting on CRISPR of human embryos. So what gives? Were the sources wrong? I don’t think so and I believe there are additional labs pursuing research on the use of CRISPR in human embryos. …Read More