Cells Weekly – August 3, 2014

by Alexey Bersenev on August 3, 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. Position of aesthetic/ plastic surgeons on stem cell procedures
This week, professionals societies of aesthetic and plastic surgery expressed their concerns about direct-to-consumer advertisement and offerings of stem cell procedures. First, the authors freely available review, highly criticized “stem cell marketing and offerings:

The marketing and promotion of stem cell procedures in aesthetic surgery is not adequately supported by clinical evidence in the majority of cases.

This review was highly publicized and American Society of Plastic Surgeons made a press-release – Beware of Pitches for Stem Cells in Cosmetic Surgery. It represents official position of society. Here is the video, discussing this review:

Second, the paper, published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal (paywall), explores attitudes of professionals about stem cell offerings. The authors conducted the survey of aesthetic surgeons – members of professional societies:

The majority of respondents indicated that knowledge regarding the risks and benefits of stem cell procedures is insufficient to obtain valid informed consent (AS, 29) and that direct-to-consumer advertising for these technologies is inappropriate and unethical (AS, 23). Most respondents reported that patients should be actively warned against traveling abroad to receive aesthetic cell therapies (AS, 86) and that registries and evaluations of these clinics should be made publicly available (AS, 71). Even more respondents noted that financial conflicts of interest should be disclosed to patients (AS, 96) and that professional societies should participate in establishing regulatory standards (AS, 93).

2. Company is divesting stem cell program
We have heard a lot that stem cell research tools and reagent is well growing profitable business. But this week French company Cellectis sold stem cell program to Japanese firm Takara.The decision is strategic, but apparently based on “operating net loss“:

Cellectis said it opted to sell the Swedish subsidiary as part of a reorganization of its “tools and services” business unit, following an operating loss last year of €14 million ($18.8 million) before extraordinary depreciation expenses and costs related to the company downsizing.

3. One more Nature’s stem cell retraction
Controversy, surrounding paper, published in 2008 in Nature – Generation of pluripotent stem cells from adult human testis, finally ended by retraction. Hans Schöler expressed a number of concerns in 2010 Brief Communication Arising. Finally Nature decided to retract paper, based on weak “level of proof of pluripotency”, presented in new data. Read more on Retraction Watch.

4. Excellent survival of infants with SCID after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
The most important clinical study was published this week in NEJM. Children with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and some other inherited immunodeficiencies had excellent survival if hematopoietic stem cell transplantation early:

We collected data retrospectively from 240 infants with SCID who had received transplants at 25 centers during a 10-year period (2000 through 2009).
… the survival rate was high regardless of donor type among infants who received transplants at 3.5 months of age or younger (94%) and among older infants without prior infection (90%) or with infection that had resolved (82%).

As soon as SCID is diagnosed – HSC transplant should be perform early on! Very important study!

5. To tweet or not to tweet a conference?
Recently, I’ve written my position on tweeting a conference. This week, Stacey Johnson discusses this topic on the Signals again:

In my opinion – and I’m not a scientist – there is really not much of an argument for telling people not to tweet from a conference. In reality, if your article isn’t published or in the process of being published and/or you haven’t filed your patent application yet, a few tweets will be the least of your worries.

Please join the discussion on Signals or here!

6. Printing the heart
Great popular article about organ bioprinting was posted by TechRepublic. The story highlights Cardiovascular Innovation Institute at University of Louisville where Stuart Williams and Jay Hoying are trying to print whole heart. It also describes some companies, involved in the business, such as Advanced Solutions Life Sciences and their bioprinters.

FDA regulations will certainly hold up the process, though it’s unclear for how long. Once the research phase is complete, the cells will have to be tested on animals, which is why Hoying and Williams are making the prototypes as small as possible. It can take anywhere between two and ten years to get something approved by the FDA.

Highly recommended!

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