Saturday, 16 April 2011

Regeneration and rejuvenation: science fiction... right?

Having just watched Susan Lim and Anthony Atala talk on TEDMED, I'm amazed at what modern science can already do. They can take adult stem cells and turn them back into fully versatile stem cells - similar to embryonic stem cells but without the ethical dilemmas - and use them to regrow broken organs in the body. Another option is to take working cells from the bit of body you need to repair and grow more of them in a Petri dish. Then you take the cells, put them on a 'scaffold' and grow a whole new organ. There's actually someone out there who has a working bladder grown in a lab from her own bladder cells more than a decade ago.

I wonder if this would work for pituitary glands, and other glands in the body? The current research seems to focus on kidneys and livers because that's what the majority of people on the waiting lists for donor organs are waiting for. Are pituitaries more complex than kidneys and livers, or similar?

I imagined a cyborg solution to the problem of broken pituitaries, using nanotechnology. It seems the cell biology approach is the more likely candidate for success.

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