Tissue engineer Nina Tandon describes a more effective way to test new medication and treatments that can be better tailored to different patients through a new system in her engineered tissue keynote.
One size doesn't fit all and that applies to medicine as well. Despite the testing and experimental phases in the laboratories, a lab rat's reaction to medicine does not necessarily mean a human will react the same way and even then, she continues, every human would react differently as well. Japan recently developed a method called induced pluripotent stem cells, which is a system in which any cells -- Tandon uses skin cells as the example -- can be tricked into cellular amnesia and essentially reprogrammed to react like a heart, liver or any other cell or organ in the body. This method is not only less controversial than embryonic stem cell research, it's also more effective since it can reprogram adult cells to any desired condition.
Often, the negative effects of short or long-term medication are not discovered until the effects take its toll on the patient. Through the induced pluripotent stem cells, Tandon hopes to be able to map out using induced situations what she calls the human ecosystem to illustrate the side effects of medicine and treatments.