Cells Weekly – March 2, 2014

by Alexey Bersenev on March 2, 2014 · 0 comments

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Cells Weekly is a digest of the most interesting news and events in stem cell research, cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Cells Weekly is posted every Sunday night!

1. STAP news
STAP stem cell discovery – one month on! A month of excitement and controversy. This week was as eventful as all previous weeks. My pick of the latest news:
Plagiarism in methods section of STAP paper
Yamanaka would assist STAP project
Interview with Teruhiko Wakayama on STAP
First comment on STAP appeared on PubMed Commons
RIKEN is about to release detailed STAP protocol

2. Discussion on “3-donor reproduction” technique
It was discussion of the week. This week was a historic for US FDA, where the hearings for controversial reproductive technology took place. So-called “3-parent baby” technique was considered by the agency for clinical trial. Unlike UK (where is debate are coming close to the end), US got involved just now. You can learn more about the technique and debate about it from here, here and here.
A lot of good and productive discussions among professionals took place on social media. Especially on twitter (example: here, here and here) and on a blogs. There were many opinion pieces written. But I’d like to highlight 2 blog post –
Heather Has Three Parents by Hank Greely
It’s A Slippery Slope. Get Over It. by Laura Hercher
Highly recommended to read!

3. Prison sentence for Woo Suk Hwang
8 years later, Korean Supreme Court upholds decision on criminal charges for animal cloning pioneer – Woo Suk Hwang. This week, there was a flood of news about it. You can read some here, here and here.

Discredited stem cell scientist Woo Suk Hwang suffered a setback in his bid to reclaim respectability today when South Korea’s Supreme Court confirmed his conviction on embezzlement and bioethics violations. The court also sent Hwang’s plea to overturn his dismissal from Seoul National University (SNU) back to a lower court for review and upheld previous rulings acquitting him of fraud charges.
The ruling comes 2 weeks after Hwang scored a victory of sorts in gaining a U.S. patent for a purportedly cloned human embryonic stem cell line.

4. Direct neural reprogramming in spinal cord injury site
A group of researchers was able to reprogram resident astrocytes in neuroblasts in situ, in the model of spinal cord injury:

Here we show that resident astrocytes can be converted to doublecortin (DCX)-positive neuroblasts by a single transcription factor, SOX2, in the injured adult spinal cord. Importantly, these induced neuroblasts can mature into synapse-forming neurons in vivo.

This is very cool!

5. Cardiac cell therapy scandal – a case of scientific misconduct
Last year, University of Düsseldorf has started an investigation of cardiologist Bodo-Eckehard Strauer, alleged in fraud in reporting cardiac cell therapy trials results. This week, University reports some evidence of scientific misconduct in Strauer’s case:

The university has referred the committee’s report to an internal disciplinary procedure, which is not expected to draw a conclusion until next year.
… the report of the clinical investigation had been sent to the city’s public prosecutors.

6. Is the largest cardiac cell therapy trial really stem cell trial?
Jalees Rehman have asked this question about European BAMI trial in his blog post:

In media reports, the BAMI trial is portrayed as a study which will test whether stem cells can heal broken hearts, and a press release by Barts Health NHS Trust, which is leading on the trial, described the study as “the largest ever adult stem cell heart attack trial”. But the scientific value of the BAMI trial for stem cell research is questionable.

Completely agree with Jalees! Highly recommended to read!

7. Decellularized organs podcast
Joshua Bush of Natural Scaffolds interviewed transplant surgeon and tissue engineer Giuseppe Orlando on a subject of decellularized organs. This is very interesting podcast. I’d recommend you to listen.

8. Cell fate reprogramming
Jonathan Slack wrote very interesting piece for the Scientist about mature cell fate switching.

In the past two decades, the study of cellular reprogram­ming has gone from basic science to applied bioengineering, with researchers now able to create a variety of important cell types.

9. New regenerative medicine blog
HEART – Healthcare Engineering and Regenerative Therapies:

Scientists and engineers from Loughborough University, The University of Nottingham and Keele University describe their research into treatments that could help the body to fix itself.

I subscribed!

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