Through their lens: Ariana Gonzalez worked on a future therapy for liver cancer

This summer we’re sponsoring high school interns in stem cell labs throughout California. We asked those students to contribute to our Instagram photos and YouTube videos about life in the lab, and write about their experiences.

Ariana Gonzalez did a stem cell research internship this summer in the laboratory of Keigo Machida at the University of Southern California.

Ariana Gonzalez pipetting in the lab. She submitted this photo to our #CIRMStemCellLab Instagram feed

During the summer I worked on a research project that involved silencing certain genes, knock down certain epigenetic regulators with lentiviral shRNA, this will be known as loss of function. This was used to analyze by how much the Nanog level increased or decreased. The desired effects were that Nanog levels would decrease since this would mean that gene is key in order for there to get a step closer on finding what genes can be silenced so that Nanog, which helps stem cells regenerate can be decreased in tumor imitating cells and eventually it will lead to a cure for liver cancer. The regulators include: histone de-acetylase, DNMT1, MLL1, ESET, Dot1, and HDAC1.

After this internship I have learned a lot about stem cells. First of all I learned from where they come from, which is from the Fertilization Clinics, where couples do in vitro fertilization. I also learned that in order for them to grow they need a feeder layer. Another thing was that they can divide in big numbers and therefore need to be passage every certain days, about 3-4 days, or else they start dying off since then they will grow in big numbers and lack resources.

I enjoyed everything from this internship. I liked to opportunity I got to do something like this and to be exposed to actual labatory work in a lab. I feel that it was a great opportunity to find out if research is something that you want to look into. My family thinks that this was a great opportunity because it exposes us to materials and things that we had never seen before and that other high school kids do not get an opportunity. It also helps us get exposed to things that are happening in the real world, things that not only affect one person, but a large population in the world.

I think that after this experience I do want to pursue a career in research.

Ariana Gonzalez

Ariana submitted these videos about her experience:

Thirteen organizations issue joint patient advisory on unproven stem cell therapies

CIRM has always recognized that the hope of new stem cell therapies hovers in a distant future for patients who need therapy options today. That makes patients susceptible to false promises from practitioners offering unproven and unregulated treatments, some of which may be harmful. A few years ago we developed a stem cell tourism web page to provide information about stem cell tourism and some useful links to patients looking for more information.

Today, we join 12 other organizations in issuing a joint “Patient Advisory for Stem Cell Therapy and Medical Tourism.” This document provides a more robust and detailed set of issues patients should consider when making treatment decisions.

Clearly new therapies cannot happen without innovation, but innovations needs to occur in a controlled fashion and in a framework of regulation that both protects patients, but also assures that information about treatment outcomes is shared. That knowledge can accelerate our pace to finding the best treatment, rather than just a treatment.

The new document offers advice to patients and families on educating themselves, on what is appropriate informed consent and specific things to look for in a clinical trial. It also advises that you should have the opportunity to ask questions and suggests the types of questions you should ask.

The document addresses one of our pet peeves: those clinic ads that come up on web searches and seem to be offering everything to everyone:

“A single stem cell treatment will not work on a multitude of unrelated diseases or conditions. Thus, it is unlikely that a single cell type can be used to treat a multitude of unrelated diseases that involve different tissues or organs.”

The other endorsing organizations include the International Society for Stem Cell Research and the International Society for Cellular Therapy. The full list of organizations is at the bottom of the advisory.

Don Gibbons