More on Stem Cells

There have been a lot of new papers on stem cells in leading journals recently. Stem cells made the covers of the 26 June issue of Science and the 2 July issue of Nature, and both issues contained special sections on stem cells.

Note especially the review by Shinya Yamanaka of progress in the field of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), a field that was first developed by his laboratory.

In that article, Dr. Yamanaka discusses hurdles to efficient iPS cell generation, ways by which these hurdles may be overcome, and the great potential of the field once this is accomplished. This is an example of the need to develop enabling technologies to move a technologically immature field up the development curve, as discussed in our earlier post.

Both the Science and Nature issues also discuss regeneration in such animals as planarians, fish, and salamanders. This is a favorite subject of many biologists. The Science article considers the implications of molecular and cellular studies of regeneration in these organisms for wound repair in humans.

The July/August issue of Technology Review also has an article on stem cells, which emphasizes iPS technology.

The article also discusses companies that are attempting to commercialize the infant field of iPS technology, especially California start-up iZumi Bio, which since publication of the article has merged with Pierian to form iPierian. iPierian is focusing on using iPS cells for drug discovery, by creating disease models based on iPS cells derived from patients with such diseases as Parkinson’s disease, spinal muscular atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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