Find $250 Easter egg in GMO Sapiens #CRISPR book: here’s a hint

egg crackingWant $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 a better chance, I’m giving a hint. The clue is: crack the Easter egg code.

Good luck.

This is largely a repost of last year’s Easter piece.

Hint for $250 Easter egg in GMO Sapiens #CRISPR book

egg crackingWant $250 as well as at least a sliver of science-related glory?

Within my new 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 a better chance, today in this post I’m giving a hint.

The clue is: crack the Easter egg code.

Good luck.

Find Easter egg hidden in my new book GMO Sapiens & win $250

I like Easter eggs, science and writing, and Easter is less than a week away.

I also think that games and puzzles as well as contests where there are prizes are fun.

In this spirit I’ve hidden a scientific Easter egg inside of my new book, GMO Sapiens.

If you are the first to find it and notify me, I will give you a $250 prize.

We are talking about a scientific Easter egg.

Wikipedia defines this sort of Easter egg this way: “An Easter egg is an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature in an interactive work”.

This is the kind of egg I’ve hidden…not an actual egg.

There are some rules to carefully consider.cover GMO Sapiens

To be eligible, you have to have personally purchased the actual softback or hardback a copy of the book, and provide documentation of that.

You also have to correctly tell me the entire nature of the Easter egg hidden in my book and it might be more complicated than you first imagine. So if you think you’ve found it, take some time to be sure you really “get it” because of the next rule.

Only one guess per person is permitted per 30-day period.

But only the first one to correctly tell me the egg wins the prize.

Anyone is eligible except for members of my lab or family or anyone in any way affiliated with this blog.

Enjoy the hunt and the prize if you are the winner.

Hopefully you’ll get something out of the book too.

To stem cell clinics: do your homework & take FDA “current thinking” seriously

FDA draft guidanceOne of the difficult things about the regulatory sphere that covers stem cells in the US is that many aspects are confusing or puzzling both to the public and so-called experts. We’ve been talking through some of the questions that come up in this area in posts and comments on this blog.

  • What does a warning letter really mean? What triggers it?
  • Why do some businesses selling stem cells get inspected and others don’t?
  • What do some entities get warning letters over the years, while others don’t?
  • What weight does a draft guideline have?
  • How about a finalized one?
  • If a business disagrees with an FDA guideline or action, what should it do?
  • If a business operates without FDA approval (maybe because they disagree with the FDA) when it seems that it should need that approval and yet the FDA takes no action, does that mean anything?

The list goes on and on.

It’s kind of like trying to read tealeaves. One of the FDA reforms I advocated for in my book, Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide, is more clarity and better communication.

Despite the many questions and confusion out there, I would say one thing is clear: Take FDA “current thinking” very seriously.

While current thinking as articulated in guidances (draft or otherwise) is not formally equivalent to a regulation, it would seem to have the power to trigger action based on the historical record.

Therefore, one broader lesson in this arena would seem to be that the FDA can pull the trigger on actions like visits and warning letters based on their current thinking even if that current thinking is not formally crystalized beyond draft guidances or even without any draft guidances. For instance, it seems pretty clear that the FDA right now views SVF as a drug and while it may not have done much about this action wise yet, the odds are that such action will be coming sooner or later. The same goes for non-homologous use of bone marrow and amniotic stem cells such as for neurologic conditions. In other words, what the FDA staff think is going to be their basis for actions. SVF

As a result, it kind of goes both ways in the sense that guidances (draft or otherwise) are not formal regulations and “only” reflect current FDA thinking, but at the same time “FDA current thinking” shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of importance as it clearly can play a big role as the basis for action.

Too often I’ve heard clinics or other advocates say things like, “these are just draft guidelines” or “the FDA hasn’t been clear on that yet”. The reality is that no matter what any of us might like (e.g. increased FDA clarity), it is not the FDA’s responsibility to make sure everything is crystal clear for every stem cell clinic out there. Rather, it is the physicians’ responsibility to do their homework on the FDA and all relevant regulations, current thinking, etc.

If a clinic wants to challenge the FDA I can respect that if it is done responsibly, but it is a very different matter and a risky game to do such a challenge operationally by administering what by all accounts the FDA considers to be unapproved drugs into patients and then waiting to see if anything happens on the regulatory front.

This game of stem cell chicken is particularly risky if you are “treating” medical conditions outside of your specialty and do not have any rigorous training in stem cells as well as having little if any expertise in FDA regulatory affairs. And, no, a weekend resort or other similar quickie “course” on stem cells doesn’t really count.

Reviews of my new book GMO Sapiens on #CRISPR & human modification

cover GMO SapiensIt’s exciting that the reviews are starting to come in on my new book, GMO Sapiens, on human genetic modification including CRISPR.

Here is one from The Scientist and the book was recommended by Scientific American.

Reviews from individual authors and scientists are below.

“GMO Sapiens could not be more timely. New technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing have great clinical potential, but they also bring us closer to a world in which future children can be pre-conceptively manipulated and customized to possess certain traits. A stem cell biologist, Knoepfler explains cutting-edge developments in human genetics in accessible prose. More importantly, he clearly presents the ethical complexities around designer babies and the pursuit of genetic perfection at a moment when the Brave New World envisioned decades ago by Aldous Huxley mimics reality more than science fiction.”

     -Alexandra Minna Stern, author of Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America, 2d ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015). 

 

“The book takes us on an engaging roller-coaster ride through the new genetics, which could greatly impact many economic, policy and personal decisions in the next few years.  It works hard (and succeeds) at fairly presenting pros and cons, as well as capturing as durable a glimpse of the future as possible in this, the most rapidly changing technology ever. Many readers will be shocked at how close we are already.”

-George Church, CRISPR pioneer and author of Regenesis

 

“Paul Knoepfler manages to convey the excitement and potential of genetic engineering without sounding like Pollyanna, and compassionate concern over its misuse without sounding like Chicken Little—a highwire act that is all the more virtuosic for its seeming effortlessness. GMO Sapiens is informative, thoughtful, entertaining, and deeply humane.” —Nathaniel Comfort, Baruch Blumberg Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress/NASA and Professor, Department of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University