Building New Human Organs from Stem Cells
A conversation with Tony Blau, Professor of Medicine/Hematology, Adjunct Professor of Genome Sciences and Co-Director, Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, University of Washington; hosted by William Harris, President and CEO, Science Foundation Arizona
Tony Blau on current state of stem cells
- New kind of stem cell uses skin cells to create a stem cell that subverts controversy around embryos.
- Adult stem cells do a pretty good job of reconstituting blood, but so far haven’t done too much else
- Embryonic stem cells can now make any human tissue
- Number of people in need of a transplant vastly outstrips the number of available organs. Stem cells can actually be turned into heart mussel cells that beat like the heart
- Initial studies of gene therapy in humans are not going to be a homerun. Instead, we need to understand what happened sufficiently to have a single. The first attempt at a bone marrow transplant was 14 years before it actually succeeded
- Heart replacement has been done successfully in baboons and is about 3 years away from being successful in humans
Opportunities around Cancer and big data are huge
- Every cancer is a unique permutation
- We need a new framework to understand that.
- 1. Fuse research and clinical care. Develop a hypothesis around vulnerabilities.
- 2. Treat patient according to hypothesis and use that experience to understand tumor.
- Patients are central to this process and are playing a heroic role in our research.
- It’s important to be transparent: We will be wrong more than we will be right
- Success is not trying to be better than an oncologist; but to “prove that we can be outstanding custodians of this process.” “If you come back in 5 years, I bet we’ll beat the pants off of an oncologist’s guess.”