New Yamanaka interview gives key insights into future of IPS cells

Shinya yamanaka

Wikipedia photo

Where is the field of IPS cells going and how will this impact the overall field of stem cell-based regenerative medicine?

Nobel Laureate Shinya Yamanaka, the discoverer of IPS cells, gave a really interesting recent interview to Nikkei that provides some fascinating insights into the future of this exciting technology that is now more than a decade old.

For simplicity I have indicated top highlights from the Yamanaka interview below as bullet points.

  • More IPS cell trials are on track to start as soon as 2018 in Japan.
  • Yamanaka said that trials for Parkinson’s, Spinal Cord Injury, and Heart Disease are amongst the planned IPS cell trials in Japan.
  • There are also plans for clinical studies on cancer and kidney disease, perhaps further down the road such as 2019-2020?
  • Immune rejection and cancer risks must still be evaluated, he said.
  • There are likely to be important differences in the new studies versus use in the eye.
  • CiRA has started working with Takara on QC of IPS cells and products.
  • Their main focus for all these trials still seems on allogeneic use from IPS cell banks.

It will be interesting to see how trials in Japan develop versus those in other countries such as here in the US where I know of planned autologous IPS cell clinic efforts.

10 provocative stem cell questions: what are your answers?

heart stem cellsThere’s always debate about stem cells and regenerative medicine, right? There are very strong opinions in our field. Here is a list of 10 current, provocative questions. I have my own ideas about the answers to these. Weigh in with comments with your answers.

I’m going to do a follow up post with some discussion of the questions. I may do another follow up with the top 10 policy questions in our arena.

Here’s today’s list in no particular order. 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.

Top 10 Google Stem Cell News Stories: Perspectives

What does Google think (if Google does indeed think) are top 10 stem cell news stories right now?

I took a screen shot below.

Here are some thoughts on those stories.

top-stem-cell-headlines

First, lung organoids are neat, but they have been grown before by several groups. Why is that the top story? I’d have to ask Google. Better PR? Still looks interesting and could have real impact for lung disease in the future.

The second story is on the transplantation of allogeneic IPS cells into monkeys without immunosuppression.This is an important finding with clinical impact from Dr. Takahashi’s group.

That third story seems odd to me. Seems like an over the top claim.

The fourth one with its “for the first time” I’m not so sure about and number five seems to be on the same story. I have doubts about that trial given the lack of detail and the potential for harm to patients. It sounds premature.

Then we have cancer stem cell stories at number six and another at number eight.

Number seven and ten both refer to the experience of one patient in the Asterias stem cells for spinal cord injury trial. Number ten’s headline is dubious from a scientific perspective with its “as a result” claiming the stem cells made the man better for sure. I really hope that’s true, but we don’t know yet although more recent data on more patients is encouraging. Controls are needed in the long run to iron things out.

Number nine is about stem cell clinics. It seems to be the only one mentioning the historic FDA stem cell meeting this week.

TGIF top 10 weird stem cell posts: magic testicle soup, Kim Kardashian, zombies, & more

kardashian-vampire-facialAfter six and a half years blogging here, I’ve seen so much crazy stuff. Not all of it was even “bloggable” due to its nature.

For TGIF, here are 10 of the weirdest posts from this blog over the years.

Where’s the Beef? Reality Check on Stem Cell Test Tube Burger Baloney

ZombieStem cells in my Pepsi? A new crazy stem cell myth

Please pass on bull testicles Soup No. 5 & on stem cell Soup No. 7

Haruko Obokata 小保方 晴子-like Game Character Conducts ‘Dangerous Research’

Stem cells sold for better sex part 2: bigger & better penis?

Strangest stem cell event of 2012: Moriguchi’s fake iPS cell transplants

Testimony in shocking supermodel stem cell fraud case: “I lied to patients”

Kim Kardashian vampire facelift: stem cells in there?Soup No.5

Beyond zombies: reviving dead people with stem cells & lasers?

Stranger than fiction: the electric stem cell bra for breast enlargement