Things have gotten (even more) interesting at work
Things have been very busy for the last few weeks. I've had too much going on to maintain a blog responsibly, so I'll try to compromise by maintaining a blog irresponsibly. Here is a poorly composed report of what I've been up to.
Work: Work has gotten very stimulating. As the lab manager of a stem cell research lab, I've found my work to be fulfilling for the entire time I've been working at Cedars-Sinai. We study diseases by collecting blood from patients with a disorder, then modifying the blood cells so they revert back into the stem cells we all grow out of. It's the same person's cells, but now we've deaged them to 9 months before the person was born. We can then try to grow them into cells like the ones in the person today: heart cells, brain cells, kidney cells, whatever. Which has several big applications.
1) Cloning a part of a person could let us make rejection-free replacement organs. Not DONOR organs, but a factory-fresh replacement identical to the original, except fixed.
2) Having human cells in a dish allows us to perform biological experiments on the very thing we're trying to understand and repair. Up until now, biology has relied on watching animals and studying the dead under a microscope. As a tool for figuring out diseases in order to solve them, this is unlike anything since the microscope was invented.
3) The tools we use in order to study the cells -- converting cell types, aging and de-aging cells, inducing and removing mutations -- is currently reserved for use as a learning tool. But it seems inevitable that these tools will one day be applied directly to patients. At this point, what becomes possible in humans could -- and I don't say this likely -- begin to strive not just to restore us to our best, but to improve are longevity or capabilities