Discover more from P.S. You Should Know...
P.S. You Should Know... | Issue #344
Stem cells, come and get 'em.
my story 🚀
🎃 I had not carved a pumpkin in so long prior to this week. I used a stencil and it felt like cheating. But the finished product, Owly the Jack-O-Lantern, turned out quite nice! Happy Halloween!
i’ve been thinking 💭
The bleeding edges of innovative medicine. I made an offhand comment about stem cells to a parent of my kid’s new friend this week. He was wearing a knee brace and we were discussing his injury. I imagined a future when a simple stem cell shot could help. I had already heard of such procedures done by American doctors in their Caribbean clinics. Well, it turns out he was super knowledgeable about stem cells. He even named two local clinics in Austin who offer the service. I had to do a double-take because I recall reading on the FDA’s website that “The only stem cell-based products that are FDA-approved for use in the United States consist of blood-forming stem cells (hematopoietic progenitor cells) derived from cord blood.” Their most current guidance (2021) that I could find tries hard to warn people away from regenerative medicine products. So what’s going on? Are these clinics and their medical staff plainly in violation of FDA’s regulatory requirements?
The details matter, of course. One example of a stem cell treatment that a clinic offers for knee pain is Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC). They call it a “non-surgical method to resolve knee problems and promote healing.” They use a needle to remove bone marrow aspirate from your hip, then “minimally process it” in a centrifuge, and re-inject the product it into the ailing part of your body. So, what does the FDA have to say on the matter? Nothing, at first glance. But a random clinic’s website I found says: “The device used to process BMAC is cleared by the FDA. The BMAC itself does not currently require FDA approval because it is made using your own cells, for homologous use, and with minimal manipulation.” They also reference 2017 guidance by the FDA in along document. I found the most current (2020) version. It’s long and I didn’t read it all, but it seems legit — as long as the cells come from your body and are minimally processed, they’ll stay out of regulating their injection back into your body by medical professionals.
I imagine many of your readers know way more than me about the nuances here, and would welcome your commentary!
fun facts 🙌
Female frogs appear to fake death to avoid unwanted advances. “Researchers say the findings shed new light on the European common frog, suggesting females do not simply put up with the male scramble for mates – a situation in which several males can end up clinging to a female, sometimes fatally.” ~ learn more
18 of the most common emoji — and how to use them. You, like me, are probably a bit out of touch with the latest usage of modern hieroglyphics. This can help you catch up 💪. ~ learn more
“The last man who knew everything.” That was the title of a biography of Thomas Young (1773 - 1829). He was “a British polymath who made notable contributions to the fields of vision, light, solid mechanics, energy, physiology, language, musical harmony, and Egyptology. He was instrumental in the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs, specifically the Rosetta Stone.” ~ learn more
oh, austin 🤠
Traffic in Austin will never get better. “But what's truly baffling is how reluctant people in Austin are to look to other cities for insight on how to address urban issues. As a result, not only are the problems we face often described as if they are unique to Austin, but any solutions proposed are treated as entirely theoretical, when in fact there are often plenty of examples of them being implemented elsewhere.” ~ learn more
tech, startups, internet ⚡
Lessons from the rise and fall of the telecom bubble. “The Internet and Telecom bubble. Lessons in leverage, rates, and a smattering of fraud. What can we learn from that period to compare it to the current AI infrastructure build?” ~ learn more
Creating a VC fund portfolio model. Dave McClure shares the details that go into building a venture capital fund portfolio. “This article aims to help VCs figure out how to size a venture capital fund, how many companies to include in your portfolio, and when and how to do follow-on investments.” ~ learn more
Who should I hire first? Lenny Rachitsky has unusual access to founders. He asked the CEOs and Founders of successful B2B startups about their first ten hires. “Takeaway: Developers, developers, developers, developers. Over two-thirds of the companies hired an engineer as employee #1. Not a big surprise.” ~ learn more
Math is hard if you’re an LLM. “No matter how much data you train them on, they still don’t truly understand multiplication.” Written by Gary Marcus, who “feels really old whenever he has to write articles like this. He had really hoped to have said his last word about them in 2001, when he wrote The Algebraic Mind.” ~ learn more
better doing 🎯
Do humans get lazier when robots help with tasks? “People sometimes relax, letting their colleagues do the work instead. This is called "social loafing," and it's common where people know their contribution won't be noticed or they've acclimatized to another team member's high performance. Scientists at the Technical University of Berlin investigated whether humans social loaf when they work with robots.” ~ learn more
to your health ⚕
MIND and the media. Gary Taubes traced how the negative results of a nutrition trial (MIND stands for Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) turned into a slurry of media coverage reaffirming conventional wisdom that the trial did not affirm. This is a sad spectacle. ~ learn more
under the microscope 🔬
A new tuneable microtransistor can perform AI tasks with 99% less energy. “Researchers at Northwestern University have presented their new nano-electronic device in a paper published in the journal Nature Electronics. It's designed to perform the task of classification – that is, analyzing large amounts of data and attempting to label the significant bits – which is the backbone of many machine learning systems.” ~ learn more
AI predicts 70% of earthquakes a week before they occur. “Researchers at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin tested an AI algorithm that accurately predicted 70 percent of earthquakes a week before they happened. The trials took place during a seven month period in China and offered much hope that a reliable AI system for predicting earthquakes may finally be available.” ~ learn more
big ideas 📚
The techno-optimist manifesto. This recent post by Marc Andreessen is recommended reading for tech enthusiasts and skeptics alike. I particularly liked this line, a reference to the silicon sand that powers our modern world: “We believe Artificial Intelligence is our alchemy, our Philosopher’s Stone – we are literally making sand think.” ~ learn more
Riskophilia. This post by Packy McCormick overlaps with Andreessen’s manifesto (linked above). He points out that the prevailing attitude that America has adopted is a shift from a belief that people are competent and responsible to one where they need supervision and protection. “The movement is against the idea of risk minimization as a goal. It’s against the culture of safetyism that we’ve all allowed to seep into every corner of our lives. It’s for the more vibrant, alive, and vigorous world we can build when we embrace risk with eyes wide open.” ~ learn more