Check out the best TED Talks below to understand the growing importance of stem cells within regenerative medicine.
In this article:
- What Are TED Talks?
- TED Talks Topics: Stem Cells
- Criteria for Choosing the Top 5 TED Talks Topics About Stem Cells
- Top 5 Most Inspiring TED Talks About Stem Cells
What Are TED Talks?
One of the best places to go for information on the rapidly moving field of stem cells are TED Talks. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks, given in 18 minutes or less.
TED was founded more than 30 years ago (1984) as a conference where “Technology, Entertainment and Design converged,” but it took until online video became available for these talks to break into the public consciousness. Now, the best short TED Talks given by thought leaders around the world are captured on video and uploaded on the TED website as high-quality, high-definition footage.
Today, TED Talks cover a massive range of topics in more than 100 languages.
TED Talks Topics: Stem Cells
In recent years, stem cell topics have broken on the TED Talk scene. At my last count, there are more than 70 talks that mentioned stem cells within the transcript.
To honor the thought-leaders who are spreading incredible ideas involving stem cells, today’s post presents five of the best TED Talks about stem cells. Each one of them makes for a fascinating and inspiring watch.
Criteria for Choosing the Top 5 TED Talks Topics About Stem Cells
The criteria used for choosing the best TED talks about stem cells were the following:
- total number of views
- specificity of the topic to stem cells
- total number of shares across social platforms
- total number of comments/discussion (“engagement”)
Based on these criteria, the following videos are the winners.
Top 5 Most Inspiring TED Talks About Stem Cells
1. The Skeletal Stem Cell
“Soon we’ll cure diseases with a cell, not a pill.” – Siddhartha Mukherjee (878,295 views; March 2015)
In this video, Mukherjee talks about the skeletal stem cell, a type of stem cell that supports the skeletal system. He believes that arthritis, for example, is the result of stem cell degeneration in the joints. That is why it is essential to focus the attention of treating bone-related diseases on the dysfunction of cells and how to “awaken” them for proper function.
The skeletal stem cell has four properties:
- They live where they are expected to live, that is, underneath the surface of the bone. They move to form the bones.
- The cells can be taken out and cultured in the lab for cartilage formation.
- They are efficient repairers of bone fractures and act like glue that sticks the fractured bones together.
- Their numbers decline precipitously as a person ages.
He ended with this statement, “The reason we haven’t had the transformative impact on the treatment of illnesses is because we don’t have powerful enough drugs, which is partly true. But, the real reason is we don’t have powerful enough ways of thinking about medicines.”
2. The Inconvenience of Drugs as Treatments
“The promise of research with stem cells.” – Susan Solomon (769,764 views; June 2012)
in this TED talk, Solomon discusses the huge inconvenience of drugs in treating diseases. She believes that stem cells allow people to generate drugs and treatments that are much more effective, safer, faster, and at lower cost. Stem cells also allow scientists to test for drugs on the actual cells that they are trying to affect.
The problem with drugs is that it follows the “one size fits all” principle, which does not provide universal effectiveness, because humans have different genetic types. This means each person reacts to drugs differently. A drug may be effective for one person, but it may not be for another.
She concluded, “Stem cells allow us to test whether a particular drug is effective or not for this particular genetic type.”
3. The Shift from a Whole Organ to Stem Cell Transplant
“Transplant cells, not organs” – Susan Lim (589,660 views; Dec 2010)
In this TED talk clip, Lim explains how she sees the benefit of transplanting stem cells instead of organs, having personally witnessed the technical difficulty of transplanting a whole organ. Her lab focuses on using fat-derived stem cells, which can be found in the skin, fat, bone marrow, blood, and other organs.
They convert and reprogram fat into youthful or specialized cells for future stem cell transplants. She hopes to use fat for stem cell therapies to reduce the need for embryonic stem cells, which is for her, surrounded by moral controversy.
4. Stem Cells for Brain Damage
“Can the damaged brain repair itself?” – Siddharthan Chandran (868,308 views; July 2013)
In this exciting TED talk, Chandran focuses on how stem cells can significantly help in treating different types of brain diseases. He begins by explaining how the brain works and how it can be damaged in ways that lead to diseases.
Despite the alarming damage, stem cells have the ability to repair brain damage. There are stem cells in the brain that can enable new myelin to cover up over damaged nerves. However, te challenge here is how scientists can develop ways to promote stem cells that are already in the brain to react or function appropriately to repair the damage. Despite that, he believes that stem cells offer a great hope for regenerative neurology.
5. The In Vivo Bioreactor
“A new way to grow bone” – Molly Stevens (1,074,64 views; June 2013)
In this widely viewed TED talk, Stevens introduces a new way to regrow bone. She calls this method the in vivo bioreactor, which means the growth of cells within a living organism. According to Stevens, this process can lead to the proliferation of stem cells to form new tissues. Over time, the tissues can be harvested for future use within the body.
The in vivo bioreactor is a better alternative to the bone graft. Bone graft is harvested from the hip bone for transplant to repair fractured bones. However, the hip may be damaged even 2 years after the surgery, and there’s only a limited supply of bone to be used for this.
What Do These TED Talks Reveal?
Judging from the ideas presented in the best TED Talks above, stem cells are a promising treatment approach for range of different diseases and injuries. Stem cells are unique in nature, because they have the regenerative power to assist the body with healing itself. The only question is, how soon will these approaches become mainstream?
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What are your key takeaways from the best TED Talks above? Share your thoughts in the comments below.