Conference "The quest for immortality: reality or bullshit ?" by Frédéric Beigbeder and Dr. Yossi Buganim Geneva



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Frédéric Beigbeder first met Dr. Yossi Buganim when writting his novel "Une vie sans fin" (Editions Grasset, 2018), in which he explores the different scientific advances potentially extending human lifetime.

Dr. Yossi Buganim heads a stem cell laboratory at the Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem, and is involved in regenerative medicine - a new field that aims to replace damaged tissues, organs or cells by transplanting healthy cells that are derived from alternative sources of cells. For example, embryonic stem cells have tremendous potential in this field because they are able to become all types of cells in the human body. However, various ethical problems and cell rejection by the patient's immune system prevent their actual use.

To overcome these obstacles, Dr. Buganim's lab works to convert adult skin cells into cells with a high clinical value, such as nerve cells, heart cells, and embryonic stem cells. These cells are referred to as “induced cells” and look and function just like their natural counterparts in the human body. By introducing a small number of proteins into skin cells, Dr. Buganim and his team reprogram the genome of the skin cells which are then converted into other cells of interest. Because the skin cells are taken directly from the patient him- or herself, issues with immune-rejection or ethics are no longer relevant.

The success of the study may lead to a new, unending source of cells that will be used for transplants. In addition, these cells are a good basis for the study of diseases and the discovery of drugs because they can be produced from different patients and diseases.