In the whirlwind that is the stem cell and regenerative medicine world, there are many concerning things that need attention, but also good stuff happens too and this post focuses on the positive.
The Asterias spinal cord injury clinical trial, a phase 1/2a trial called SCiStar, continues to make encouraging newswith a clean safety profile and additional hints at possible positive indicators of efficacy. With the usual, important caveats such as that this is early and it is not an RCT, the SCiStar momentum is positive. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this one including from an RCT. You can read my interview from last month with Asterias leadership here.
I remain very enthusiastic about ViaCyte’s trial as well using a stem cell capsule product for treatment of Diabetes. Their joining forces with BetaLogics a year ago just made their position even stronger.
I’m going to do a post soon on an analysis on the total number of stem cell and regenerative medicine trials compared to historical data I collected. Stay tuned on that. I’m guessing it’ll be good news.
Recently, we also saw evidence of fast action from FDA in response to the 21st Century Cures Act in terms of providing a clear documenton Regenerative Advanced Therapy designations and applications. It’s still unclear how the Cures stem cell provisions will play out, but I consider quick, clear action from the FDA to be a positive. I wish they were this fast on other stuff like dealing with stem cell clinics marketing unapproved drug products.
There have been a number of cool papers recently that I recommend reading:
It has been a bumpy 2016 so far for the stem cell field and many challenges have popped up.
So today at lunch and needing at least a short break from grant writing, I went looking for stem cell good news including interesting studies, promising trials, and frankly things that just sound unusual or even weird.
I’ve listed these below.
Have a good weekend…you know what I’ll be doing: working on my grant.
If you know of other stem cell good news pass it along in the comments.
Sometimes there is so much craziness and outright bad stuff going on out there around the world related to stem cells that we can lose sight of all the good and encouraging developments as well.
I think the new paper (Chen, et al.) from a team led by Drs. Lane and Loring is good news.
I haven’t had time to fully read it yet, but it reports some encouraging results whereby human neural progenitors injected into the spine of mice with an experimental MS-like condition stimulated great clinical improvement. The cells seemed to reduce inflammation although they did not appear to engraft.
What do you see as the most promising positive developments on stem cells lately?
We in the stem cell field should call this past week
A Nightmare on Stem Street.
I can’t think of many weeks that have been worse for the stem cell field than this past one. I’m a new week is starting soon.
It was a real nightmare, although I wish it was just something fictional out of the movies (see movie poster from Wikipedia). What happened?
The STAP horror fest kicked it up a notch in providing pain to the stem cell field with a dramatic press conferencefrom Dr. Obokata in Japan that was a toxic stew. More STAP press conferences are apparently coming….
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School took a stem cell hit with a paper retracted (by request from Harvard) from the outstanding journal Circulation. This paper from cardiologist Dr. Piero Anversa had claimed against all odds/previous data that the heart could quickly repair itself.
A second shot to the heart for the stem cell field came again from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, as they face another burgeoning stem cell paper fiasco. The Editors of The Lancet published an expression of concern about another stem cell paperfrom Anversa.
And there was yet another high profile stem cell paper retraction, this time from Cell, was announced. The compromised paper “Directed Conversion of Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Skin Fibroblasts into Functional Neurons” had reported some interesting direct reprogramming, but one author, Dr. Ryousuke Fujita, has reportedly fessed up to some serious shenanigans on the data. The retraction was at the request of the authors.
Finally, NIH CRM is finished. Finally, the chilling cherry on top of the stem cell week from hell was the news that NIH’s stem cell program, the Center for Regenerative Medicine (CRM) was closing up shop after only having funded one grant. Terrible news.