Cutting-edge scientific research in human health doesn’t just help us improve lives; it can go so far as to reframe how we think about the human body and how we treat illness. Whether engineering human tissue from silk or using an evolutionary approach to treat cancer, these researchers encourage us to expand our understanding of health and health care to allow for possibilities previously considered beyond the realm of reality.
In her brief essay, “Bad Eggs: A Darwinian Approach to Ovarian Cancer,” Natalie Perlov, Jamie Tebeau, and Michelle Ysrael advocate for an evolutionary approach to the study of ovarian cancer, the deadliest gynecological cancer. They outline three areas for potential study: Incessant Ovulation Theory, inflammation, and other evolutionary changes. This Darwinian approach to medicine helps elucidate risk factors, mechanisms, and potential treatments for risk and discomfort.
In “A Biomaterials Approach to Kidney Engineering,” Nathan Sandler used a silk fibroin to work toward constructing bioengineered kidney tissue, which will hopefully offer an alternative to dialysis and transplant as a treatment for kidney disease. Bioengineered kidney tissue would hopefully be more sustainable than transplant and less expensive and difficult for patients than dialysis. The current treatment for volumetric muscle loss is autologous tissue transfer (moving muscle tissue from another part of the patient’s body to address muscle loss). There are a number of complications associated with this method, including donor-site morbidity or infection and inadequate blood and nerve integration. In “Development of Skeletal Muscle Tissues in Collagen Structures,” Mina Ghobrial proposes that sbioengineered skeletal muscle model can help study these issues, leading to more effective treatment methods and eventually create mature differentiated muscle tissue.