Stem Cell News Briefs: Anversa, Japan Regs, Ocata Suit, More

It’s been a busy few weeks for the stem cell field. Below are some news briefs on developments.

  • RetractionWatch reports that Piero Anversa is leaving Harvard/Brigham and Women’s Hospital after an investigation and dismissed lawsuit he filed against the institution. All still quiet on the STAP cell front at the same institutions.
  • There’s some more clarity and confusion over the Japanese regulatory sphere for IPS cells. New regs may not be issued for another 4 or more months, leaving the clinical studies there in some limbo timing-wise. JapanNews asks “Are the mutations found in the RPE study relevant?” and quotes an anonymous source that they aren’t.
  • An interesting new paper on direct reprogramming to a cardiac phenotype. What do you think of this work?
  • Shareholders in Ocata, in the process of being acquired by Astellas Pharma, are unhappy with the deal and perceived undervaluing of Ocata in the purchase. A number of reactions are in the works including a class action lawsuit. Note: I have a very small, long-term stake in the company.Timothy J. Kieffer
  • 2015 Till-McCulloch prize goes to Timothy J. Kieffer (pictured)
    and his lab for outstanding research on production of insulin-secreting cells.
  • A link between Duchenne and stem cells could be important.

3 thoughts on “Stem Cell News Briefs: Anversa, Japan Regs, Ocata Suit, More

  1. With regards to the Duchenne muscular dystrophy and stem cells paper,
    ….This finding doesn’t really move anything forward. It’s a nice mechanistic explanation (if it’s true). We already knew that stem cells were important for Duchenne. This specific requirement doesn’t significantly change that. Also, nearly all the viable therapies being developed for Duchenne are based around dystrophin addition or replacement, with some specifically targeting satellite cells or generating corrected satellite cells from iPS and ES cells.

    Entirely unsurprising the way it’s being spun there.

  2. Samsung or iPhone?
    I’m curious about the Japanese move towards allogeneics. Business logic (cost of goods) speaks for allogeneics, as it’s an off-the-shelf product (sort of), but lifelong immune suppression is a problem that autologous doesn’t have (in theory). But autologous also has the possibility of generating mutations during iPS generation, as seen in the RPE trial of Masayo Takahashi. It’s not a big deal as they can be identified, but it makes autologous even more expensive.

    Jeanne Loring is going with autologous for Parkinson’s and Jun Takahashi with allogeneic so it will be an interesting comparison as the trials move forwards – both in pre-trial logistics and the clinical trials themselves.

    If both are successful and approved – what does a patient choose? The expensive autologous or lifelong immune suppression? Eventually, expensive processes become more cost-effective, so this speaks for autologous. But for patients on Medicare or the EU equivalents, the choice will be made for them – the cheaper version.

    So are there enough patients willing to pay up for autologous? If autologous and allogeneics companies were founded tomorrow – where should I place my long investment – iPhone or Samsung?


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