Are you sick? Take a medicine that will cure you, and only you.


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Tissue engineering may be the next groundbreaking discovery in medicine. Truthfully, and without being dramatic, it could change mankind if it manifests. Tissue engineering, in plain English, is essentially when scientists take certain cell tissues and alter them to either "improve or replace their biological functions". Nina Tandon, of Columbia Univeristy is the lead researcher in this field. Her goal is to take tissue cells, and engineer them in such a manner that each and every person can have medicine that is specific to them. How it works is that, (this is complicated), by "Using pluripotent stem cells (cells that can differentiate into the three main germ layers) to make personalized models of organs on which to test new drugs and treatments, and storing them on computer chips." 
In TED talks, Nina discusses Lou Gehrig's disease in which a team of scientists used tissue engineering and were able to produce neurons from the disease ridden tissue. What this means according to Professor Tandon is that "we can fight back faster and understand the disease better than ever before." In class today, Andrew showed a pretty powerful video regarding science in which one of the speakers said that they enjoyed science because it was like putting a puzzle together. Well, with tissue engineering in this case, that's almost exactly what is going on. Researchers take for example an infected tissue, and try to manipulate in a controlled environment and then "give it back" to the person with the disease. This is a VERY simplistic way of putting it, but at the utmost basic level, that's what is going on. Here is a diagram below that may help you understand a bit better. *Note the Cell Cultivation, if you look closely Henrietta Lacks may be in there from Andrew's samples.*
2012-08-22_Researchers_TissueEngineering_WEB.jpg
 So what does this all mean to you? Right now, nothing. BUT, in the near future we may get to a point that when we go the doctor with a virus, or even cancer, the doctor may be able to give us a type of medicine that would work on you, and only you. We embrace our differences as people, but in science, the differences make things difficult. None of us react to medicine the exact same way, which is one of the reasons finding an all-out cure for certain things is next to impossible. Another question, though it may be a random, is I couldn't help but wonder what the impact on our society would be if this type of tissue engineering integrated its way into everyday medicine. Would it be a topic at the Presidential debates? Is it moral? Would religious sectors deem it un-Godly, saying that we are tampering with fate?

 I have put Nina's TED talk below, beware that her voice and style of presentation is heinously annoying. What she has to say though, is quite compelling.
 

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