January 27, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Jun Takahashi

7 min read

IPS cell research is a growing area of promise for regenerative medicine. These stem cells, also known as iPSCs or more formally as Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, are engineered cells that are programmed to function the same way as embryonic stem cells. They can be differentiated into possibly any type of cell that is needed for therapeutic purposes. Since iPSC production was first reported by Shinya Yamanaka using mouse and human cells in 2006 and 2007, respectively, cells from a whole host of species have …Read More

2 min read

In the past month or two there has been a steady stream of good news in the stem cell and regenerative medicine world. Here are three examples. Fate Therapeutics announced the first US IND for an induced pluripotent stem cell (IPSC)-related product. Its cleared product, FT500, is an off-the-shelf natural killer-based cancer immunotherapy. I expect more to come in the next couple years so good news now and likely more to come. IPSC-based trials are picking up in Japan too with trials related to …Read More

5 min read

Each year I make a list of stem cell predictions for the following year and I’ll release my predictions for 2019 soon, but first I’m grading how my 20 predictions for 2018 turned out. It seems I did better than usual predicting what would happen this year. I only got a couple partial credit or were hard to grade. The rest were right. Here are my 20 predictions verbatim that I made in late 2017 for what would happen in 2018. 1. Combo cell-gene …Read More

3 min read

In Parkinson’s Disease patients develop neurological dysfunction as they lose a special kind of brain cell called dopaminergic (or dopamine) neurons. While a number of different approaches to this disease have been studied for decades, nothing has proven particularly successful in slowing its progression. As a result there has been a big need for novel thinking about how to tackle Parkinson’s Disease including via stem cells. One of the most exciting ideas has been to use human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSC) or human embryonic …Read More

2 min read

A much-anticipated induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell trial for Parkinson’s Disease reportedly will soon launch led by Professor Jun Takahashi. The news broke on Yahoo Japan, which included an unusual number of appropriately sober statements regarding the trial, even though it is an exciting trial as well, compared to most media stories on stem cells. Parkinson’s Disease is a result of a loss of dopaminergic neurons in the brain so it is a particularly attractive target disease for stem cells, which can be readily …Read More

2 min read

One of the most famous living biological scientists, Sir Ian Wilmut, just announced that he has Parkinson’s Disease. I wish him the best in dealing with this illness. Wilmut is very well-known for having cloned the first mammal, Dolly the Sheep. This work followed on the earlier breakthrough by Sir John Gurdon of cloning the first vertebrate with his work in frogs. it just occurred to me: I’m not sure if the first cloned frog had a name! Over the years there has been …Read More

4 min read

By Jeanne Loring There are ten million people in the world who have Parkinson’s disease. 125,000 of these are living in California.  People with the disease often have to step away from their jobs because the main symptoms – tremor or freezing up of muscles – make it difficult to get through a whole day of work. Parkinson’s disease is caused by the loss of a specific neuron type in the brain.  The dopamine neurons in the region of the brain called the substantia …Read More

1 min read

Some good news today as the pioneering induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell trial led by Dr. Masayo Takahashi will resume. This clinical study with a focus on macular degeneration has been on hold for quite some time due to regulatory changes in Japan. There had also been concerns over mutations in the 2nd patient’s IPS cell product. As previous signs had indicated, the new clinical work will have an allogeneic focus, most likely drawing IPS cells from a bank. According to a Japan Times …Read More

2 min read

What’s better for stem cell trials such as for vision loss or Parkinson’s Disease: allogeneic or autologous cells? In a major shift earlier this year, the induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cell trial in Japan for treatment of macular degeneration (MD) switched gears from using the patients’ own cells (called “autologous”) to using banked cells from other people, termed “allogeneic”. Dr. Masayo Takahashi, the leader of this MD trial indicated the main reason was due to regulatory changes related to stem cells in Japan. This …Read More

25 min read

By Michael Cea Jeanne Loring of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California kindly sat down with me at the ISSCR annual meeting for a broad discussion of her history, views on the field and developments in the science. I found Jeanne a refreshing character, as I did a number of others I was fortunate to meet in Sweden. Her style I can only best describe as natural. It must be the Southern California air or something but there is a definite quality of relaxed …Read More