ASCB Newsletter Dec 2013 - page 23

23
PUBLIC POLICY
Briefing
DECEMBER 2013
ASCB
NEWSLETTER
Stefano Bertuzzi and Elaine Fuchs at the task force presentation
Stem Cells, continued from page 1
Stem cell biology has been both
exhilarating and humbling, Elaine
Fuchs of the Rockefeller University and
an ASCB task force member told an
audience of researchers, science funders,
and representatives from the National
Institutes of Health and the Department
of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency. Reviewing major
milestones in tissue research since iPS
cells revolutionized the field in 2007,
Fuchs pointed out how much we have
learned about how cells and
tissues operate as systems
but also how much we don’t
know yet about extremely
basic cell and developmental
biology. The best stem cell
work, Fuchs said, has all
been “tiny” steps. “In order
to get to these basic steps, it’s
taken years of going back to
basic biology,” she said.
Arshad Desai of the
University of California,
San Diego, is an
experimental cell biologist
probing the centriole, a
fundamental organelle
involved in everything
from development to cancer. Desai told the
group how stem cell biology offered his field
tantalizing approaches toward a “new biology”
that would give researchers better and more
reliable model systems. But in the lab today,
Desai said that stem cells are raising critical
questions about basic concepts such as “wild
type” or what constitutes valid reproducibility
of an experiment. “Which line is ‘wild type’?
Do we address different outcomes in different
lines?” Desai asked. “Is it going to tell us
what all these types of cells are doing under
different conditions?” But Desai emphasized
the potential of stem cells as
transformative tools in cell
biology, saying “There’s a lot
of biology in this machinery.”
Lawrence Goldstein of the
University of California, San
Diego, and the chair of the
ASCB task force, said that in
working with iPS cells, he has
come back time and again to
fundamental issues of human
genetics such as copy number
variation within a single
human being. Yet in his lab’s
work on Alzheimer’s disease
(AD), Goldstein sees research
that only human-derived iPS
…Fuchs pointed
out how much
we have learned
about how cells
and tissues
operate as
systems but also
how much we
don’t know yet
about extremely
basic cell and
developmental
biology.
…Desai said that
stem cells are
raising critical
questions about
basic concepts
such as “wild
type” or what
constitutes valid
reproducibility of
an experiment.
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