July 18, 2021

Weekly reads: stem cells to gametes, no PRP benefit, WHO CRISPR, pubs

Weekly reads: stem cells to gametes, no PRP benefit, WHO CRISPR, pubs

The paper of the week is from Science on making ovarian follicles and actual eggs from stem cells. It’s just in mice, but this line of work tends to stir people up. We’ll dive into that in a moment.

Weekly reads: stem cells to gametes, no PRP benefit, WHO CRISPR, pubs
Making eggs from stem cells in mice. “Reconstitution of follicle structures, including oocytes, entirely from mouse pluripotent stem cells. Illustrations on the left show a schematic overview of reconstitution of both FOSLCs and PGCLCs from mESCs. Oocytes in the reconstituted environment gave rise to offspring after fertilization. The right image represents fully grown cumulus-oocyte complexes derived from FOSLCs (red) and PGCLCs (blue).” Yoshino, et al. Science 2021, screenshot of part of FIg. 1.

But first some good news.

We’re up to 146 subscribers on our stem cell YouTube channel so I’m issuing a call to please subscribe toward our next goal of having 250 subscribers. Below is my latest video on an overview of the idea of stem cell therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.

The point of this YouTube channel is educational outreach. You might be surprised (or maybe not) at the vast sea of cruddy stem cell video content on YouTube. A big fraction of it is promotional for stem cell clinics. We need to change that reality. Even though Google has banned stem cell ads from its search results, YouTube (which is owned by Google) hosts a huge array of basically free stem cell ads as videos for clinics. It’s pretty awful.

Now onto our weekly reads. As always, there’s been a lot going on in the regenerative medicine and stem cell space in the past week or so.

Stem cell produced gametes

This area of research is not quite as new anymore, but it never seems to stop shocking some folks. What’s so unsettling? The idea that human reproduction might be successfully completed entirely using stem cells instead of the old fashioned way. The new paper is entitled, “Generation of ovarian follicles from mouse pluripotent stem cells.”

This kind of thing has been done before, but what seems unique this time is that all the components came from mouse ES cells.

Could it work in humans? What would be the ethical and societal implications? Proponents point toward possible fertility treatments, but I see more risk than possible benefit here. For one thing, if applied with a reproductive intent in humans, it would ease the use of heritable CRISPR gene editing, including some that might be misguided. Imagine the next He Jiankui, but he doesn’t need an IVF clinic or to allegedly forge approval documents for that. He just makes human embryos with stem cells. Yikes.

More reads on stem cells & regenerative medicine

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