Changing the future with stem cells | Crystal Ruff | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool

Translator: Robert Tucker
Reviewer: Denise RQ For the past 12 years, I have been a researcher
in the field of regenerative medicine. As a doctor of neuroscience, my work investigates
whether or not we can use stem cells to help children who have had brain injury
or adults with spinal cord injury. Today, I am going to speak with you about how we are changing
the future with stem cells. I believe that stem cells
are the new Internet. Think about it. Think about how the Internet completely
changed the way that we communicate, the way that we do business, and even the way
that we gather data and information. Similarly, I believe that stem cells
have the power to revolutionize the whole concept of healthcare. So to start, let’s have
a little audience participation. Put your hand up: how many of you
have heard of the term “stem cells”? Now leave your hand up
if you can tell me what they are. This illustrates a very important part
of my work in science communications. Most of us have heard
of the term stem cells either through the media
or through our friends, but very few of us
actually know what they are, what they can do,
and, importantly, what they can’t do. So, today, we’re going to speak
a little about what stem cells are, we’re going to look
at what they’re currently being used for, and where the future of the field lies. So, you can’t be expected to understand
about stem cell treatments if you don’t understand
what stem cells are to begin with. This is something
that I like to call “Stem Cells: 101”. We all know that the hundreds of cells
in the human body all originate from one fertilized egg. If you think of this
as a ball rolling down a hill: at the top of the hill, the ball can go
to any number of destinations downhill, but as it rolls down guided by gravity,
it hits a series of forks in the road. After which it must make a decision
to go one way or the other, and that restricts its potential outcomes. Similarly, stem cells
during the process of differentiation face a series of fate decisions where they must choose
which cell type to specialize into, and they cannot go back. Near the top of the hill,
you see pluripotent stem cells: “pluri-” meaning “many”;
“potent”, “potencies”. Embryonic pluripotent stem cells are the type of stem cell that people
most often associate with the word. However, in reality, these cells
are virtually never used in transplant paradigms. Instead, we differentiate the cell down
into multipotent progenitors that are very specialized for the type
of tissue that we want to get. It’s important to note
that one type of multipotent cell cannot make adult cells of another type. For example, fat stem cells
cannot make cells of the brain or the eye, and vice versa. So, you might ask, if pluripotent stem cells can turn
into any cell in the body, why don’t we just inject those? You know, they could go to the site, they could travel to the site
of whatever is injured and turn into the cells that we need. Right? Wrong! Because they could turn
into something like this. This is called a teratoma. The problem is once we put stem cells in, we cannot control where they go
or what cells they turn into. They could turn
into all of the cells in the body all at once, all in the same place. Here you can see hair,
fat, tooth, gut, bone – imagine if this were
in your brain or your eye. This is why we must differentiate cells into the specific progenitors
as much as possible before we’re thinking
of transplanting them in. Now, all of our adult tissue has
its own multipotent cells within it, that’s what helps us to grow
or when we’re repairing injury, and these can be harvested
in many tissues, and grown in the lab
for transplanting paradigms. However, there are some tissues
that you can’t harvest. Think about the brain
or the heart or the eye. Going in there to get cells
could kill you. So we have to think of other alternative
cell sources for these cells. And this is where
pluripotent cells come in. Now, up until now, embryonic drive cells
have been differentiated down the hill into the stem cell types that we need. Recently, induced pluripotent
stem cells were developed where you can take adult skin samples,
your own consenting adult, push them back up the hill
using four chemical factors, and then differentiate them down
to the cell type you need. This was discovered recently
by Shinya Yamanaka, who went on to win the Nobel Prize. The good thing about this is
it uses non embryonic sources, and it’s your own tissue,
so your body is not likely to reject it. Alternatively, direct lineage
reprogramming – there we go – takes you from A to B without this intermediate
step up the hill. You can take adult skin samples and differentiate them directly
into the cell type you choose using different chemical triggers. Now, this is only
in the lab phases, it’s very new, but it represents
a very interesting direction into where the field is heading. So, what we are we doing with stem cells? Here’s another audience participation. How many of you are affected by,
or know someone who has been affected by, any of these diseases? Put up your hands. Stroke, burns, diabetes,
injuries to joints. Now look around. Every single one of us
is affected by diseases that stem cells could potentially
one day help treat. Just because we are putting stem cells
into the first person in the first trial doesn’t mean these are a treatment, doesn’t mean it’s
a regular accepted treatment. As you can see here, it can take up to ten years or over to get through
the clinical trials pipeline. Science is incremental, but the good news is
we have a lot of treatments that have been in the pipeline
for many years, that are just now starting to come out. Furthermore, now more than ever before, scientists, clinicians,
members of the public, policymakers, are all working together
to streamline this process. That means we can get
the best stem cell treatments out to the people who need them the most
in the shortest amount of time. So here you see these diseases
are colour-coded based on where they are on the pipeline. You can see that we have
two current treatments using stem cells here in green. The first for bone and blood cancer you might know of
as a bone marrow transplant. Been used for decades. The next stem cell product
to come out of the pipeline is for burns and wound healing. This uses skin tissue
and helps with vision burns as well. Today we’re going to focus
on two major areas that we’re using stem cells in. The first is stroke. This is my work in childhood brain injury. Did you know that cerebral palsy
is more common than juvenile AIDS, childhood leukaemia,
muscular dystrophy, and juvenile diabetes combined. Cerebral palsy, which means
problems sending signals from the brain to the muscles
creating movement is the most common
neurodevelopmental disability. What my work does, is we inject stem cells into the brain which are able to incorporate
and turn into the types of cells that are lost in the most
common forms of brain injury. They can enhance function
and restore brain tissue. And what my work in particular
has been able to show is that we are able to functionally
double the signal speed in the brains of animals. What could this mean for a child
with cerebral palsy? This could mean the potential
for normal movement, the ability to go out and run and jump,
to play with their friends. Very exciting stuff. Right now, these cells are being used
in clinical trials only. There are trials in adults
looking at stroke, and there are adult trials
looking in spinal cord injury. The same cells are lost in these models. Importantly, the first clinical trial
using these types of cells has now started in children. Next, I want to focus
on a very interesting area that’s combining 3D bioprinting
with stem cell regenerative medicine. This is in red, because it is
only in the early stages, but I think it represents
a very exciting avenue through which the field is heading. With improvements
in imaging software and technology, we are now able to make accurate 3D images and take scans of body structures
inside the body. Using AutoCAD and 3D software, we are able to make CAD designs
which can be printed using 3D bioprinters. These bioprinters are kind of like
the printers you have at home, only, instead of using ink,
they use special biogels to create the structures
that you have in the body. After that, you can seed them
with stem cells. Here you see a heart valve being printed which can then later be seeded,
possibly with your own stem cells. There’s an image on the inset
of the heart valve. There’s also an image of an ear
being seeded with stem cells which can be your own. Underneath, you see
a 3D printed image of a trachea. On the bottom right, you see an interview
that I recently did with CTV national news on the youngest ever
transplant recipient of a trachea seeded with her own stem cells. It’s important to note
that while this is very exciting, it is still in its infancy. We cannot make complicated structures
with multiple cell types, and right now, it is just very basic. But think about where this can head. Think about whether we could
use it in the future to print structures in the body
and use our own cells for transplant. So this is a very exciting field, but as with every potentially
game-changing technology, there are challenges. This used to centre around the use
of embryonic drive stem cells, but, recently, with the advent
of the induced pluripotent stem cells and direct lineage reprogramming, which can use your own adult
consenting tissues, this conversation has become
less and less relevant. What we see, especially with the the increase
of treatments coming out of the pipeline, is misrepresentation
of stem cell strategies. Here, some doctors are offering
unproven treatments using stem cells for profit. Unproven – that means
a) not proven to work, and b) not proven to be safe. Recently, “Scientific American”
had an article about a woman who went
to a very fancy clinic in Beverly Hills and got the latest stem cell facelift
that they were offering. The doctors took advantage
of a loophole in the law, sucked out her fat,
and put the stem cells in her face to make her rejuvenated,
or healthier or something. And while they were under the hood,
they gave her dermal filler. What the doctors didn’t take into account is that dermal filler differentiates fat stem cells into bone. So this woman was left
with bone fragments in her eyelids. This is why we need clinical trials
to make sure that treatments are safe. If you were to take a drug,
and you had a bad side effect, you could stop taking the drug,
and that side effect would go away. But it’s not the case with stem cells. Once stem cells are put in,
they can never be taken back out. Furthermore, going
to an unregulated clinic can exclude you
from future legitimate trials. So, how do you know
whether or not what you’re looking at is a real stem cell treatment
or misrepresentation? Here are some hints that can help you,
it’s a difficult field to navigate. The first: look at
how many cell types per injury. We mentioned that cell types need to be
very specific to replace damaged tissue, and one stem cell type
cannot turn into cells of another. So it’s very important if someone’s saying they’re going to suck out
one type of stem cell and use it for 12 different indications, it’s likely something you should question. Second of all: you can check out
their preclinical track record; clinicaltrials. gov
is a comprehensive database of all of the clinical trials
if they want to get FDA approval. And the third and most important
thing that you can do is to be knowledgeable. Do your research and get consensus. Ask your doctors, all of them,
because they are here to help you. So, overall stem cells have the potential to change life as we know it. Every single one of us
is affected by diseases which stem cells could potentially
help to treat in the future. And now that you have the knowledge,
you have the power. It is up to you to spread
the word about stem cells and to support reputable clinical trials, so that we can work hard
to get the best treatments out to the people who need them the most
in the shortest possible amount of time. Right now, there are
many – more than ever before – treatments in the pipeline, ready to come out. And the field of regenerative medicine
is at critical mass. So I ask you to come join me
on this journey. Come with me as newly minted purveyors
of stem cell knowledge as we turn science fiction
into science fact. Thank you. (Applause)

39 thoughts on “Changing the future with stem cells | Crystal Ruff | TEDxLondonBusinessSchool

  1. Very insightful overview of how stem cells work and their potential – exciting to get a glimpse of what lies ahead in scientific research and treatment!

  2. This report from the Lukemia & Lymphoma Society showing cord blood (which strictly turn into blood) has been used to treat Lukemia/Lymphoma cancer patients since 1988. Her claims of horror movie results from stem cells makes me questions her motives.

  3. having an 8 years old boy with CP, this can only be exciting news! I hope it progresses to a point where it can have real impact to improve the quality of life of anyone affected. Thank you for this nice presentation.

  4. I heard the same shit 10 years ago… big pharmaceutical companies controls these pawns. A true healer will truly heal and bless them selves.

  5. Cass Almendral- She did not relate horror movie results, she explained that a doctor at a private cosmetic office, injected FAT stem cells into a patient's face, and ALSO injected dermal filler to the same areas. She explained how the dermal filler enabled the differentiation of the fat cells into bone instead of fat. She also explained that this happened because the doctor did not do his/her research on what that combination would do the stem cells, and was basically trying to profit off of UNTESTED and UNPROVEN procedures. Yes, blood stem cells will turn into more blood cells as a treatment for blood cancers, that is well known (as she explained, when she referenced bone marrow transplants) Totally not intending to sound rude or anything, I think maybe you just misunderstood what she was explaining. All in all, it was a pretty informative and well put together talk. I learned a few things 🙂

  6. I am a biologician ABRS-45. Some stem cells turn into cancerous cells DAAAA, spoiler.
    If you are a greedy neurologist want to steal the natures secret you need to pay biologists honey. BAD science…..250 USD per info and I tell the story….Changing paradigms is not in biology.Nobody tells the cancer cells stems horrors.

  7. Very nice information mam
    My child has global developmental delay
    he is 2 years old nothing is diagnosed
    shall I go for stem cell therapy

  8. I'm looking into having stem cell therapy on my messed up knees…..It's so expensive but if it's a permanent fix I will spend the money….I keep hearing such mixed reviews and haven't found any information for people after two or three years

  9. The end goal replace damaged body parts with new body parts. It will take a very long time. The shortest time period I heard is late 20s. I would think for it to go main stream and be affordable and actually deliver the results we want – maybe the 50s.

  10. Injecting dead babies into people… Sometimes I have the feeling the world is collectively going crazy and forgot to take me with it.

  11. Stem Cells the new savior! Indeed they are. The question, however, is why aren't our own stems cells functioning properly? We're all born with them! For a stem cell to produce a new cell. Cell transcription and gene expression through RNA signaling (in very simplistic terms) it can only produce a complete cell if all the nutrients are there to do so. Each cell is different but all need the building blocks i.e. Amino acids, lipids, minerals etc. If the body isn't given these essential nutrients a full cell can't be produced.
    Who gets all their essential nutrients these days? Then factor in digestion and assimilation. Most peoples GI tract is working totally inefficiently due to bad diet advice and simple very bad happens. If people just avoided drinking whilst eating their digestion would be greatly enhanced!
    Result of not having the right nutrients and other toxic exposure the cells die off early, or worse still mutate! The answer is surely not to add new stem cells. But to address the fundamental reasons why our own arent working. Once the body is cleansed it can and will repair itself. Let food be your medicine!

  12. That loophole in the law was a good thing, law is the reason why new medical technologies develop so slowly, sure those doctors messed up, but they were willing to try it and so was the patent, and in time they might have helped take it forward, the only humans to benefit will be rich people and there will be animal tests, these presentations always get everyone excited but really the thing will be slow landed because drugs companies want to sell drugs , People still hope for some underground revolution like with things like crispr to really move things forward. This is like the worst internet ever

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