Christian Long

Alan Russell: Regenerating Our Bodies

In TED Talks on April 19, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Reflection by KRISTEN K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Alan Russell:  Regenerating Our Bodies

Imagine being able to reconstruct a collapsed lung or a heart whose beats were limited–being able to transform a sickly organ back into a healthy one with renewed vigor.

What would this type of medicine mean for our future?

Instead of getting drugs to treat symptoms, what if we could use natural materials to actually cure the problem causing our symptoms?

Regenerative medicine–a concept I believed only existed in theory or in a starfish–is the idea that by using certain materials, cells, or devices a damaged organ or limb can be recreated to its original capacity. In Alan Russell’s compelling talk, he not only shows that it is possible but also that it is enormously successful.

In a series of profound images (that are not for the faint of heart) he shows a diabetic ulcer being more or less cured and a 78-year-old man whose lost fingertip was recreated–skin, bone, flesh and all.

Perhaps the most shocking and exciting example Russell presents is using stem cells from liposuction fluid as neurons. The idea that we can use materials derived from our own bodies to help cure our ailments seems unrealistic yet perfectly fitting all at the same time.

This is good news because after all, it is much less of an endeavor to donate your fat than to donate your kidney.

It seems like regenerative medicine could be the path to curing ailments that have plagued Americans for decades like cancer and heart disease.

Unfortunately, our government is not putting funds into this science. Other countries are funding for their future health, but the United States is not. If the United States invests in regenerative medicine, our futures will become a little bit brighter.

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