Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tip #70: Believe in the future

Thanks to the Swell app, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I discovered the TED Radio Hour program. Recently they had a very interesting show called Predicting the future. As always, the program has several parts, but there was one in particular that caught my attention, "How personalized will medicine get." They interview the engineer Nina Tandon about her TED talk (embedded below) on tissue engineering. She has also just published the Kindle book Super Cells: Building with Biology. She mentions the potential of something called induced pluripotent stem cells, which was just discovered in 2006 by Shinya Yamanaka and Sir John Gurdon and which garnered a Nobel Prize of medicine for them in 2012. What she mentions in her talk, and I have seen first hand unfortunately, is how each disease is different in each person and how a medicine or treatment that I may take or do will have completely different results in somebody else. But this kind of stem cells are induced in the lab from our own cells (so they also don't carry the ethical problems that embryonic stem cells have) and thus, we can try medicines in the organs created with them with the benefit that we will know for sure how our own organs will be affected. Her talk is only seven minutes, so I encourage to watch it, as it gives us much needed hope.

It also gives me immense hope that, although the talk is from 2012, I myself just heard it about three weeks ago, but since then, even more exciting news have come out in relation to this line of research:
  • They have just discovered a process that is even faster and cheaper to get stem cells. (NYT article)
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells will be tested in people with age-related blindness ( article). This is very important because in her talk she mentions that, treating a disease this way with people will be the first step to using this method for everything. So, this was just a hypothesis in 2012 and now it is a reality. 
  • Creating platelets through induced pluripotent stem cells may also be a possibility. (Science Mag. article)
These news make more tangible the idea that we can create personalized medicine for each one of us. I believe we live in an age of miracles, and this looks like another one to me.

What do you think?