Medicine and the way we understand the human body has developed hugely over the past hundred years. There are many diseases and physical problems that can now be fixed and cured that would have previously seemed impossible. History is littered with firsts from the first heart transplant to the first separation of conjoined twins. The future of medicine is just as exciting, with technology now at the forefront of new techniques that will continue to save lives. Here are some of the things that are now in development and could soon change the way medicine is practiced.
Cancer is still considered to be responsible for many deaths each year around the world. However, there has also been huge leaps in technology and scientific research that has made the odds of beating cancer better than at any other time in history. Treatments are currently used to try and kill off the cancer cells by operating and removing the tumor or causing it to become dormant. However, chemotherapy can also cause healthy tissue to die as well as the cancer cells. What’s more, there are also many unpleasant side-effects.
The emergence of immune-oncology has seen a breakthrough in helping the body fight cancer itself. It uses the body’s own immune system to target these cancer cells and destroy them. However, although it has had a lot of success, it doesn’t seem to work for everyone. It is these types of questions that are at the front of new research as well as trying to understand why certain cancers can resist this treatment and others cannot.
In the same way that immune-oncology is helping the human body fight cancers itself, gene therapy is looking to help the body repair itself. For patients that have missing or non-functioning genes, it can result in disease and other physical symptoms that require lifelong care and treatment. However, new research has been using working genes to replace those that are damaged or missing in the patient. It was once thought impossible, but it can now be seen as a possible way to cure some diseases and prevent the patient from needing long-term care. However, this treatment is not without its questions, for example, there is the question of how long the gene therapy will work and if there is a danger of rejection by the immune system. There is also the added complication that some diseases are the product of more than one faulty gene, so being able to target all of those genes affected could be problematic.
Medicine used to be a one-size-fits-all system where everyone was given the same treatment and tests regardless of their background or their health. However, there has been increasing evidence that suggests a more individualized approach can be far more effective. It can also help to tailor treatments and other care more effectively, and therefore give the patient what they need. A recent report found that using a genetic test on breast cancer patients led to a 34 percent reduction in chemotherapy use. It is these small steps that will hopefully lead to a better understanding of a patient’s requirements. With this approach coupled with immune-oncology and gene therapy, you might soon see an individualized treatment schedule that will be developed for your own unique set of needs. It could mean less ineffective interventions and more patients surviving serious disease or injury.
Computers have drastically increased the processing of new research and the ways that scientists can calculate new relationships between disease and treatment. It has led to the use of techniques such as artificial intelligence or (AI) to try and gain new insights. Many pharmaceutical labs are now using AI, and this has led to new initiatives and increased standards so that the research is used and understood in the correct way. There are many strong hospital jobs that could be made easier and more effective if this type of technology is implemented.
Another area of medicine that is becoming increasingly likely to be used in the future is Nanotechnology. It uses small robots to perform tasks that would otherwise require an operation. These robots are still being developed, but they are small enough to enter the patient’s bloodstream and perform simple tasks. One of the ways that Nanotechnology is being developed is in drug delivery. A Nanoparticle can be designed to be attracted to a certain cell such as a cancer cell, where it can deliver its drug. It would mean a much better way of targeting such cells without killing off any healthy tissue. There is also research into how Nanotechnology can be used in absorbing toxins from the body, and others that are used to absorb free radicals that can harm the body.
Wearable Digital Devices
If you look at many of those that go to the gym or love to run, you will notice that they are wearing a fitness band of some type. These bands are designed to help you track your fitness and how hard you have worked. Most have a pedometer to count your steps, but others also have heart rate monitors and also a GPS to track your run. These devices could also do a lot more in the future, and it has also led to some insurance companies looking to include their use in your life insurance policy. Wearables can also be of use to people that need to track data for their doctors. Some hospitals now collect the data from wearables so that they can see what a patient’s exercise has been and their heart rate as well. No doubt the wearables of the future will offer even more capabilities than they do now, and it will lead to them being used to help patients create a healthier lifestyle.
These are just a few of the medical advances that will soon be helping doctors around the world help their patients live longer.