Stem cell news bites: microbiota, clinic doc death, Stem Cells Inc, & more

This edition of our stem cell news bites finds a number of notable stem cell news items.

A potentially cool link between gut stem cells and microbiota is reported by Tae-Hee Kim of the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine. See the nifty image of the stem cells from Dr. Kim showing proliferating gut cells in green in roughly the same location where the stem cells find their home.The work mentioned relates to necrotizing enterocolitis. Note that this article mentions only mouse work so implications in humans are unclear and I could not find an associated publication so we’ll have to stay tuned to see the meaning of this development.

gut stem cells microbiota

Dr. Tae-Hee Kim research image

Will formerly near death stem cell biotech Stem Cells Inc. ($STEM) be regenerated following its acquisition by another firm? This stem cell news has generated a lot of attention including this headline: “StemCells Inc picked up by Israeli medical devices firm.” What will $STEM shareholders get out of this? What is Microbot Medical exactly?

Stem cell clinic chain Cell Surgical Network has reported in the News section of the apparent death of a doctor who formerly was a member of that network, Dr. Steven Gitt. Dr. Gitt offered stem cell interventions via Phoenix Stem Cell Treatment Center. I was not able to find an obituary for Dr. Gitt, although his practice North Valley Plastic Surgery mentions a funeral held a few weeks ago. My condolences go out to his family.

More stem cell news on a happier note, noted stem cell researcher George Daley is the new Dean of Harvard Medical School.

I need to learn more about this other merger: Ireland’s Mallinckrodt buys US regenerative medicine firm. The firm in question is Stratatech…not one I’m familiar with.

What news on stem cells caught your eye?

End of line for StemCells Inc., pioneering & controversial stem cell biotech

A sad, but not surprising day for the stem cell field as the biotech StemCells, Inc. announced that it is winding down its operations after terminating its spinal cord injury trial called the Pathway Study. The data generated so far did not justify continuing the trial.stemcellsinc-logo

StemCells, Inc. (stock symbol STEM) has struggled financially for quite some time. In February of this year I asked if the company could cheat death given how bad things were looking and what I was hearing through the stem cell grapevine. Unfortunately the answer appears to be “no”.

I interviewed the leadership of the company two years and they were optimistic about the company’s outlook at that point. However, STEM CEO Marty McGlynn departed earlier this year and that was seen as another sign of things not looking bright.

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Can StemCells Inc. Cheat Death?

stemcellsinc-logoCalifornia stem cell biotech, StemCells, Inc. ($STEM), has really struggled for years and its stock is now flatlining raising the question: can it cheat death?

Will 2016 be the year that STEM turns things around?

So far this year hasn’t started off that well. You can see the graph at right from today on the STEM stock price.

Ron Leuty over at San Francisco Business Times reported a couple of weeks ago on a juicy severance package for departing STEM CEO Marty McGlynn despite struggles at the company and layoffs.STEMcell stock

I sincerely hope that STEM can bounce back and that its clinical trial work including on spinal cord injury turns out to be successful, but the odds seem to grow longer financially looking to the future barring some big splash of good news soon.

What do you guys think of STEM’s future?

Shirtgate / Shirtstorm poll results point to a polar community

Shirtgate shirtstorm poll resultsAfter about a week of polling on views of shirtgate (also known as shirtstorm), the results are in and there are some pretty clear findings.

The poll sought to measure people’s views of Dr. Matt Taylor’s wearing of a shirt covered in depictions of scantily clad woman including some with guns during a TV interview on the Rosetta comet landing project.

The two most polar possible choices got by far the most answers indicating intense feelings on this topic.

By almost a 2:1 margin (52% versus 27%), the more than 2,500 respondents indicated that they viewed the wearing of the shirt as a non-event that was blown out of proportion.

There were responses from 69 countries to the poll and  in almost every country of the world the view that the wearing of the shirt was a non-event blown out of proportion won out. However, the reponses did vary relatively speaking in some interesting ways between countries.

In Taylor’s home of the UK, responses were relatively one-sided. In the UK, 63% of responses were that the wearing of the shirt was a non-event and the reaction to it was the problem, while 4-fold fewer (15.6%) viewed the actual wearing of the shirt as a problem. About 2% said either “scientists should wear whatever they want” or that it was a mistake for Taylor to have worn the shirt.

In the US, the numbers were relatively far closer together. While 43% said the wearing of the shirt was a non-event and the reaction to it was the problem, 35% viewed the wearing of the shirt as problematic. In addition, in the US 13% felt “it was a mistake to have worn it”, while 7.5% said “scientists should wear whatever they want”. Therefore, if you add up the total of the two responses viewing the wearing of the shirt as a problem or mistake, and those two opposite responses viewing the wearing of the shirt as not a big deal, they were roughly equal, but clearly more people felt more intensely that there was an overreaction to the wearing of the shirt. Still these numbers are far closer together than in the UK and in most other countries of the world.

Only 4 countries of the 69 total went against the trend of the others and outright chose “The shirt is part of a bigger problem with STEM and women and warranted a discussion” as the top answer:

  • New Zealand (10 responses that way, 8 other spread amongst other answers)
  • Italy (4 responses that way and 4 other responses spread out amongst other answers),
  • Estonia (2 responses that way, 1 that the shirt was a non-event)
  • Luxembourg (2 responses that way and no others).

These countries had relatively few total respondents though so it is difficult to say whether these trends would have held up with larger numbers of answers from those countries.

Some countries were relatively one-sided the other way viewing the reaction to the wearing as more of a problem than the actual wearing of the shirt by the indicated ratios: France (>7:1), Canada (~2.5:1), Australia (2:1), Germany (>3.0:1), Greece (6:1), Netherlands (2:1).

What are your thoughts on these poll results?

Note that this poll is an Internet poll so the trends can be skewed by various factors and potential biases including how the poll was disseminated on social media. The poll could have been designed in different ways as well that may have yielded distinct results.