When we were growing up, how many of us learned in biology class that what are once lost cannot be rebuilt, like damaged limbs, diseased internal organs, and disconnected neural networks?
Maybe some of us learned that the possibility was not zero, but that there were yet to be any theories, let alone methods, established for regeneration.
Maybe some of us learned that, theoretically, regeneration can be achieved with embryonic stem cells (cells taken from embryos that are young enough to become a part of any body part depending on whatever stimuli they receive), but that there were ethical issues standing in the way of the method becoming practical.
Well, ten years ago today, a paper by my countryman and 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine co-winner, Dr. S.Y., was published in a scientific journal, reporting the successful induction of adult cells (cells too old to become anything other than what they have already become) into “pluripotent” cells – cells that are re-programmed to become anything they are set out to become, including limbs and internal organs and neural networks.
With this new method, we can now take “old dog” cells and “teach new tricks” to them!
It is still years away from becoming common practice in regenerative medicine. Concerns for efficiency (production rates has not become stable), safety (especially regarding cells becoming cancerous), and compatibility (whether these cells will be accepted by the host without medical problems remain largely unexamined) need to be cleared. But how exciting is it to know that we are on the brink of being able to rebuild what were once thought to be lost forever!
Maybe the same could be said for some things a little bigger than tiny cells and parts of our bodies.
Maybe with proper induction – I have much hopes for continuing education becoming important – we can regenerate our lives well into our adulthood and follow our dreams we once had to let go.
Maybe with proper induction – I see voices and funds continuously raised by residents and tourists becoming crucial – we can regenerate our towns well after their establishment and restore historic sites we once saw crumble to pieces.
Maybe with proper induction – I believe open multilateral communication will continue to be pivotal – we can regenerate international relations well beyond changes in times and regain trust in one another we once allowed to slip away.
Maybe pluripotency is everywhere around us, at all levels of human activities.
What will we be able to regenerate in the next decade or more? That is pluripotent as well, I guess.
Just remember, old dogs can be taught any new tricks… if provided with the correct cues!