How did my top 20 stem cell predictions for 2015 fare?

stem cell crystal ball

Paul’s Stem cell Crystal Ball

Each year around this time I check up on my past year’s predictions for the stem cell field. For 2015 I made 20 predictions.

You can see past top 10 predictions lists for 2013 and 2014. It’s pretty interesting to look back at where the focus was in past years and what my crystal ball yielded for better or worse.

How did I do for 2015?

Below is my scoring of the 20 predictions and it’s a mixed bag. I always tend to err on the side of optimism in predictions overall so that usually gets me in a bit of trouble on certain predictions. Note that I have used my exact wording on the prediction from last year even though in some cases I might now in hindsight have changed it.

  • FDA ‘breakthrough’ on stem cells. FDA grants an investigational stem cell biological drug therapy the breakthrough status designation.
    • Score: Wrong. This is a major disappointment.
  • Adult & pluripotent stem cell advances both impress. More encouraging publications and news on the clinical and translational fronts for both pluripotent and adult stem cell drug development including MSCs.
    • Score: Right. It’s been a great year for many kinds of stem cell research.
  • Doc training in stem cells. More new academic-related training programs for doctors to be true stem cell and regenerative medicine specialists.
    • Score: Mixed. There have been for-profits selling more training, but I don’t consider it very real. Some “real” training programs are possibly in the works.
  • Big pharma’s big interest in stem cells grows further. Big pharma’s interest in stem cells & regenerative medicine continues to grow including at least one major development that might be takeover of a stem cell biotech or something else. There are some small stem cell biotechs that seem ripe as takeover targets.
    • Score: Right. Think Ocata, CDI, and more.
  • RTT spread. At least one more state (and probably more) pass Right To Try (RTT) laws setting up a collision course between state and federal laws on investigational drugs including stem cell products.
    • Score: Right. I believe more states now have RTT than don’t. What does it mean though practically speaking?
  • Pro sports gets a bit more serious about dubious stem cell “treatments”. A pro sport players association or league acknowledges growing and difficult stem cell issues for players.
    • Score: Wrong. Lots of crazy stuff going on in the stem cell sports medicine and doping worlds, but league action isn’t one of them.
  • More high-profile stem cell paper problems. At least one and probably more major stem cell paper problems pop up and could include retractions.
    • Score: Right. I guess this just continues the trend of the last few years. Here are just the retractions, but there are a lot more messes out there.
  • The UK Parliament OKs 3-parent baby tech. The parliament approves 3-parent/mitochondrial transfer technology, but more steps are required before it is practiced in humans.
    • Score: Right.
  • Stem cell clinic chains Cell Surgical Network and continue to grow for at least the first half of 2015 and probably beyond. They operationally challenge recent FDA draft guidances on adipose and minimal manipulation.
    • Score: Right.
  • STAP-related news on the American front. We learn something on the US side of the story of the retracted STAP cell Nature papers.
    • Score: Wrong. Is STAP considered over and resolved for Brigham and Women’s/Harvard or are they still slowly investigating?
  • Muddier stem cell waters. More mixing of “legit” stem cell companies and researchers with the non-compliant side of the tracks.
    • Score: Right. This one is really troubling. The legit and dubious are often doing a stem cell dance together now.
  • More stem cell paper debates and developments on PubPeer. A volatile trend continues with notable twists and turns.
  • IPSC RPE safety. The IPSC-based RPE trial for wet AMD in Japan continues in 2015 without a reported safety hitch.
    • Score: Wrong. Although regulatory reasons were indicated as the key factor, when the clinical study stopped, mutations were also mentioned. It’s not clear how important this mutations might be.
  • A stem cell biotech finds itself in a hairy situation. What a tangle.
    • Score: Right. I was right on this even if the company (Ocata) wasn’t the one I thought would be in a mess.
  • At least one patient is harmed or files suit for a dubious stem cell clinic treatment. This is a sad prediction, but unfortunately I think it is likely.
    • Score: Right.  This happened in Japan.
  • VSEL hell. There will be even more bad news for these Sasquatch of stem cells after the Weissman lab paper that seemed to refute these “very small embryonic-like” stem cells in 2013. What does this mean for NeoStem ($NBS)?
    • Score: Mixed. It’s coming but just not yet in the public domain…
  • Celltex is going for an IND. This is an interesting development.
    •  Score: Mixed. Another one where I think it is coming but not yet openly.
  • GOP on stem cells. Republications make some noise on stem cells or personhood.
    • Score: Right. I’m going to score this right given the Planned Parenthood mess on fetal tissues/cells.
  • FDA back in the game of taking action on dubious stem cell clinics. After a long quiet period in 2014, the FDA takes some action on dubious stem cell clinics.
    • Score: Wrong. What can I say? They mystify me.
  • Stem cell-based organs. The red-hot trend of bioengineering organs and tissues in part using stem cells as a material continues to develop.
    • Score: Right. Can you say “organic”?

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