Medical Tech Advancements
Medical professions are regarded as the noblest ones out there, and for a good reason. Numerous lives are being saved every day, and judging by the latest technological developments in the medical field, those numbers will only go up in the near future.
This year looks quite promising, and we can honestly say that the future is here. So far, experts in this area have amazed us with a big discovery here and there, but there are a lot of great things to look forward to in 2016 and beyond. Let’s take a look at some of the most important recent developments that are slowly, but surely revolutionizing the medical field.
1. Gene Tuning
Certain genes and things like DNA replication errors are responsible for many of the serious diseases a person can develop during their lifetime. Thanks to the latest technology used to study DNA and ways to enhance it, we can now welcome even more powerful tools that will enable us to edit and correct it. In a very recent case, a patient with leukemia was treated with gene-edited immune cells that target infected ones, which is a huge step forward in fighting against various diseases and correcting mutated genes that are inherited. This technology has a lot of potential, but we have to wait and see how it will develop further.
2. Tooth Regeneration
Some interesting new research has shown that re-growing teeth may not be impossible after all. There is a species of fish found in Lake Malawi, Africa, that gets rid of all its old teeth before growing new ones, and scientist were able to identify the genes necessary for this process to occur. There is a good chance that this discovery will help scientist determine what starts this process and how it develops, so that dentists will eventually be able to repeat it on patients.
Simultaneously, another team from Harvard has succeeded in stimulating tooth growth by using lasers that activate stem cells, and they did so on rats and human dental tissue in a lab. Both methods look promising so far, and can have an incredible impact on dentistry if fully realized.
3. Robotic Assistants
Nurses are always in need a of an extra pair of hands – they have so many different obligations and responsibilities that they hardly get any breaks during their working hours. The problem is not so much in handling the workload, as it is in dealing with situation that require a lot of physical strength – injured patients who can’t walk or who fall down need immediate lifting, and this often requires the combined efforts of two or more nurses.
Scientists are aware of that issue, which is why they are putting their best effort into building a robotic assistant that would carry and transfer patients who are severely injured. One such smart robot assistant, called RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance), is being perfected by the RIKEN institute in collaboration with TRI (Tokai Rubber Industries). Featuring a friendly appearance, with cute teddy bear head, the robot will be capable of gently moving patients from their bed to a wheelchair and vice versa. Think of it as a friendly assistant who is always on call and never tires.
A big percentage of people working in dangerous environments, war veterans and those who have been in car accidents lose one or more of their limbs. Healthcare professionals have spent years and years developing appropriate prosthetics that would allow these people to live their lives to the fullest, but it is just now that we are seeing incredible breakthroughs in this field.
Scientists are perfecting an interface capable of transmitting nervous impulses, which would allow an amputee to send information from their mind to a piece of prosthetics and move it, just like they were move their own limb. The two major players are a Reykjavik-based company called Osso, and a group of Melbourne University researchers, who are developing a bionic spinal cord that would allow paraplegics to move artificial limbs and even robotic exoskeletons.
These technologies require further development, but it won’t be long before we start seeing more and more prototypes like these and, hopefully, the first commercially available versions.
5. Anti-Aging Treatment
People have always dreamt of immortality and there are many different myths, stories and legends that speak of a magical source or an object that will grant immortal life. Well, everyone who wants more time on Earth can look forward a potential new anti-aging drug that is being officially released for human trials in 2016. Preliminary research suggest that the drug enable those who use the drug to live over one hundred and twenty years, and remain in fairly good health even in this extremely old age.
Scientist on this project claim that drugs will enable a person who’s seventy to feel, look and move like they were twenty years younger. More tests are being prepared, as scientists also hope to prove that this drug can help prevent diseases like cancer and dementia, on top of prolonging the natural lifespan.
The technologies listed above existed solely in the realm of science-fiction even a mere decade ago, but they are now incredibly close to becoming reality. The initial research and the prototypes are already making an impact on the medical field, and as more and more institutions and companies get involved we are going to see a massive leap forward within the next several years.
By Pavle Dinic