André ChoulikaChairman, CEO and founder of Cellectis
The Future of Regenerative Medicine
Posted: 07/15/2013 11:22 am
Regret. It’s that feeling you get when you accidentally delete a photo or your hard drive fails and realize that you neglected to back it up. We’ve all experienced it that horrible feeling, so naturally many of us are used to backing up our most important digitized information and memories.
It raises the question though — why shouldn’t we back up that which is most vital to our livelihood: our own stem cells at the core of every part the body? Imagine if you were able to “reboot” your health after being diagnosed with a life-changing disease, taking advantage of medical advancements that are developed in the future.
There is a growing consensus among medical professionals and futurists alike who believe that medical innovation might allow a child born today to live beyond 100 years. Many of the advancements that may prolong and further improve quality of life haven’t yet been developed, if even conceptualized. The problem is that once these procedures are developed, it might be too late without the ability to restore parts of the body back to a healthier point in time.
That’s why new breakthroughs in regenerative medicine are creating a lot of excitement. Regenerative medicine is the ability to regrow tissue to cure disease or repair damaged organs by tapping into what is called “Day Zero state” stem cells. These stem cells are capable of growing into any cell type and can be derived from adult skin tissue, so even those who didn’t have the good fortune of saving their umbilical cord blood cells at birth can take advantage of the process.
In 2006, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka revolutionized the field of stem cell research by inventing induced pluripotent stem cells, or “iPS,” which are processed from a small sample of an individual’s cells. Yamanaka’s technology allows these cells to be “rebooted” to “stage zero” of life, similar to their state just after fertilization. Amazingly, this reboot could be done at any time in a lifetime, even for those well into retirement.
A number of public and private programs — including those initiated by the National Institute of Health, the State of California, the European Community and the Government of Japan — are leveraging iPS cells in regenerative medicine. The first clinical trials are using iPS cells to cure age-related macular degeneration (AMD) to reconstitute retinas and improve eyesight for those with retinal damage. Early results are promising.
To take advantage of these amazing advancements, it’s important that iPS cells are collected as early in life as possible to ensure the healthiest cells are stored. If this is done successfully, it just might be possible for someone two decades or more from now to be completely cured of Alzheimer’s or cancer as a result of new medical advancements that haven’t yet been developed today — all because of a simple, painless procedure that took just a few minutes today. Just like the simple act of backing-up your computer has become routine, so too could the act of backing-up your stem cells now, before you regret not doing so in the future.
You can read about Scéil, the benefits of stem cell banking, and the leading role its parent company Cellectis plays in genetic research at www.sceil.com.