Hot Topics: Stem Cells
Henry Ford would be proud. We now have the ability to mass produce humanoids, embryonic cells derived from human embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (the latter can be made from adult cells). These cells are specifically designed by researchers to have some but not all of the necessary elements to be fully …Full Article
Perhaps once a week, I will be asked by a patient about the potential benefits of stem cells for reversing the normal affects of age, particularly with respect to arthritis of the knee joints, hip joints or the degenerative discs in the lumbar spine. I believe one of the reasons for this interest has come …Full Article
A new effort at “somatic” gene editing in China is reported this week. The key summary: “As the researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine, they transplanted [blood stem] cells that had undergone CRISPR-based editing [of a gene that encodes for a receptor, or “docking station”] into a patient with HIV and acute lymphoblastic …Full Article
Developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert is credited with saying, “It is not birth, marriage, or death, but gastrulation which is truly the most important time in your life.” Gastrulation, simply put, means the embryo develops an axis and distinctly different cell layers. In the human embryo, gastrulation takes place during the third week post-fertilization. Formation of …Full Article
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
Move over United States, China is the new research powerhouse. In the last few months, announcements out of China talk about the first live human births from genetically edited embryos; the birth of 5 cloned, genetically edited monkeys, and most recently, announced the development of an artificial intelligencethat is more accurate than human doctors at diagnosing diseases in children.…Full Article
by Jeffrey P. Kahn, Ph.D., M.P.H. and Anna C. Mastroianni, J.D., M.P.H.
National Institutes of Health Director (NIH) Francis S. Collins and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb recently co-authoreda New England Journal of Medicinecommentary suggesting that special oversight of gene transfer research in humans was no longer necessary.…Full Article
A couple of gene-editing news items from this week’s science literature: First, Nature reports that a group in my “back yard,” at the University of California San Diego, has tested gene editing using the CRISPR approach in mice. Recall that CRISPR is an acronym for a particular molecular mechanism, first discovered in bacteria, that is …Full Article
That’s only a slight paraphrase of a news feature article this week in Nature. The clearly-written article is devoid of scientific jargon, with helpful illustrations, open-access online, and readily accessible to the non-specialist. Check it out. Key points include: Scientists who do not find it ethically unacceptable to create and destroy human embryos solely for …Full Article
Hat-tip to Dr. Joe Kelley for bring this to my attention… As readers of this blog will recall, there is keen interest in exploiting recent discoveries in genetic engineering to “edit” disease-causing gene mutations and develop treatments for various diseases. Initially, such treatments would likely use a patient’s own cells—removed from the body, edited to change the cells’ genes in a potentially therapeutic way, then... // Read More »Full Article
One might think with the amazing advance of technology and easy access to nearly infinite data via the Internet that we, as a society, would see a reduction in false claims of benefit for novel medical procedures and untested medications. Sadly, it seems to be just the opposite. I seem to be spending gradually more time with my patients reviewing the results of their internet... // Read More »Full Article
The Argument from Potentiality in the Embryo Protection Debate: Finally “Depotentialized”?
Response to Open Peer Commentaries on ?Visual Bioethics?
Rescuing Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research: The Blastocyst Transfer Method
A secretive experiment revealed this week, in which neurosurgeons transplanted brain cells into a patient with Parkinson’s disease, made medical history. It was the first time such “reprogrammed” cells, produced from stem cells that had been created in the lab from the man’s own skin cells, had been used to try to treat the degenerative brain disease. But it was also a bioethics iceberg, with some issues in plain sight and many more lurking.Full Article
Doctors use stem cell transplants to treat patients with certain cancers or blood disorders. And donors, whose blood or bone marrow is used for the procedures, are typically young, for a variety of reasons. But a pilot study released Wednesday raised the possibility that such donors are also passing along mutations in stem cells that could lead to health problems for some recipients.Full Article
Clusters of living brain cells are teaching scientists about diseases like autism. With a new finding, some experts wonder if these organoids may become too much like the real thing.Full Article
Japan has approved a stem-cell treatment for spinal-cord injuries. The event marks the first such therapy for this kind of injury to receive government approval for sale to patients.
“This is an unprecedented revolution of science and medicine, which will open a new era of healthcare,” says oncologist Masanori Fukushima, head of the Translational Research Informatics Center, a Japanese government organization in Kobe that has been giving advice and support to the project for more than a decade.
But independent researchers warn that the approval is premature. Ten specialists in stem-cell science or spinal-cord injuries, who were approached for comment by Nature and were not involved in the work or its commercialization, say that evidence that the treatment works is insufficient. Many of them say that the approval for the therapy, which is injected intravenously, was based on a small, poorly designed clinical trial.Full Article
Most Americans say it would be OK to use gene-editing technology to create babies protected against a variety of diseases — but a new poll finds they’d draw the line at changing DNA so children are born smarter, faster or taller.
A month after startling claims of the births of the world’s first gene-edited babies in China, the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds people are torn between the medical promise of a technology powerful enough to alter human heredity and concerns over whether it will be used ethically.Full Article
Brisbane, Calif.-based Aimmune Therapeutics recently sparked optimistic headlines after releasing clinical trial results that its allergy product, AR101, would reduce the risks linked to an accidental exposure to peanuts.Full Article
Chinese scientists have raced ahead in experimenting with gene-editing on humans in the last few years, using a powerful new tool called Crispr-Cas9 to edit the DNA of dozens of cancer patients.
Information gathered by The Wall Street Journal shows one such trial has lost touch with patients whose DNA was altered, alarming some Western scientists who say subjects should be monitored for many years.Full Article
Twelve patients became seriously ill after receiving injections that supposedly contained stem cells from umbilical cord blood, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which issued a warning to the California company, Genetech, that made the blood product they were given.
(The company has no connection with Genentech, the biotechnology corporation.)
The F.D.A. said on Thursday that it had also written to 20 clinics that offer unapproved stem cell treatments, warning them that such products are generally regulated by the agency and encouraging the clinics to contact federal regulators before November 2020, when enforcement will tighten. The names of the clinics have not been released.Full Article