Seeing is Believing: New Video on the Power of Stem Cells

skepticThe world is full of skeptics. Remember when you first heard about self-driving cars? I’m sure that information was met with comments like, “When pigs fly!” or “I’ll believe it when I see it!” Well, it turns out that the best way to get people to believe something is possible, is to show them.

And that’s our mission at CIRM. To show people that stem cell research is important and funding it is essential for the development of future therapies that can help patients with all sorts of diseases be they rare, acute, or chronic.

We’re doing this in multiple ways through our Stem Cellar blog and social media channels where we post about the latest advances in regenerative medicine research towards the clinic, through disease walks and support groups where we educate patients about stem cells, and through fun and engaging videos about the cutting-edge research that our agency is funding.

Last month, the world celebrated Stem Cell Awareness Day on October 12th. One of the ways we celebrated at CIRM was to give talks at local institutes about the power of stem cells for research and therapeutic development. One of these talks was at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato as part of their special public event on “Turning Promise of Regenerative Medicine into Reality” supported by the STEAM ENGINE, the teacher outreach program at the Buck Institute.

Kevin, CIRM’s communicators director, and I did a joint presentation on the different ways that scientists are using stem cells to model disease and to develop new treatments for patients. We also shared a few particularly exciting stories about new stem cell advancements that are being tested in clinical trials. One of them was a heartbreaking turned heartwarming story of Evangelina, a baby born with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a disease that leaves children without a functioning immune system and often kills babies within a year of birth. Evangelina was part of a CIRM-funded clinical trial run by UC Los Angeles that transplanted the patient’s own genetically corrected blood stem cells. Evangelina is one of 30 children the UCLA team has cured and CIRM is now funding a Phase 2 clinical trial for this work.

Our talk was followed by exciting stories of stem cell research in the lab. Three talented postdoctoral fellows, who spoke about new developments in stem cell therapies for HIV, degenerative eye disease and neurodegenerative diseases. The talks were well received by the audience, who were actively speaking up to ask questions during the panel discussion with the speakers.

Panel on stem cells.

Stem cell panel: Kevin McCormack, Imilce Rodriguez-Fernandez, Joana Neves, Karen Ring.

It was a truly inspiring day full of learning and excitement about the future of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. But for the skeptics out there, don’t take my word for it, you can see for yourself by can watching the video recording here:


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3 thoughts on “Seeing is Believing: New Video on the Power of Stem Cells

  1. In light of presidential election, how might stem cell research change. Reducing funds, options, etc. We are waiting for treatment. Cone dystrophy. My son, since birth. Although not degenerative. We hope someday for a possible cure. Doctors claim he has a chance for normal vision. Meaning driving . And a host of other issues. We wait now 20 years since first knowledge of this genetic rare mutation. Please keep working. We were told by retinal specialists at Philadelphia hospital, in 2007-2008. Five more years. Since he Is not totally blind, he is not a first consideration. Please inform.

    • Hi Janis, we don’t know how funding for stem cell research will be affected with the next presidential administration, but we do know that CIRM will not be affected because we are a State agency. CIRM will continue to fund promising stem cell research in California and will be focusing on funding clinical trials for many different diseases including diseases of blindness. We are funding clinical trials for macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. You can learn about them on our website: https://www.cirm.ca.gov/our-impact/funding-clinical-trials. Also, the US Congress recently passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which will allow the US FDA to grant accelerated approval for certain stem cell treatments if they meet certain endpoints. It’s important to know that accelerated approval means that those treatments will still need to be studied further to make sure that they actually benefit patients and are also safe. It will be interesting to see how this act changes the regulatory landscape around the approval of stem cell treatments. If you have further questions, please email us at info@cirm.ca.gov.

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