Longevity has preoccupied human health since time immemorial. In 2006, researchers gave us what is arguably the most significant breakthrough in the emerging science of stem cells: the discovery of inducing pluripotency from just a simple skin cell residing on your arm. Pluripotent stem cells can propagate indefinitely, and be reprogrammed to make up cells of any organ in the body with the potential of repopulating what will age, and eventually die.
As a Ph.D. candidate at the Mayo Clinic, Rawan Al-Kharboosh’s research focuses on using nanoparticle-engineered fat stem cells to fight off the most fatal type of primary brain cancer. The promise of stem cell engineering to treat failing organs, like many other revolutionary scientific approaches, does not come without a cost. Efforts to engineer stem cells also come with safety concerns and unprecedented risks. Today, scientists and the public are confronting the dilemmas of a technology platform that is driven by hope, excitement and fear.
Rawan Al-kharboosh is a Ph.D. candidate with dual appointments in the Neurosciences and the Regenerative Sciences Training Programs at the Mayo Clinic. She graduated top of her class at Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center. In 2018, she was invited to speak at the 10th International Forum of NGOs with UNESCO. Her work helped acquire an Investigational New Drug (IND) from the FDA for a point-of-care device in clinical trials using stem cells for regeneration. Rawan is currently using nanoparticles to engineer novel adipose-derived cellular applications for the intraoperative treatment of brain cancer and other pathologies of the CNS.