The impossible becomes possible.
One can sometimes sense when a particular area of medical science is taking off. Barriers and unknowns fall and it becomes predictable that exciting discoveries will be made.
That’s happening now in stem cell research. The accelerating discoveries relate to what determines a cell’s fate – is it going to be a heart cell, a liver cell, a brain cell? – and how to turn one type of cell into another.
The field first came to life in 1998 when scientists found versatile cells, stem cells in embryos that could turn into any cell in the body.
In 2007, we realised we did not have to start with stem cells from embryos. A developed cell, like a skin cell, could turn into a stem cell by adding four genes. Other researchers learned that they did not need to add the genes – they could add gene instructions instead.
In 2010 more milestones were made. Connective tissue was turned into a nerve. Connective tissue was transformed into heart muscles. Exocrine cells of the pancreas secreting digestive enzymes were turned into the very different endocrine cells of the pancreas which made hormones like insulin.
The future now continues to be bright and a whole new field of anti-aging medicine is now a reality. Welcome to the future.
The Australasian Academy of Anti-aging Medicine