10 MIND BLOWING FUTURISTIC Advances In Medicine
Throughout history, the field of medicine has gone through major changes. There was once a time when pain management was nothing more than a bottle of alcohol, but now we have pills and ointments to ease discomfort. As the years continue to pass, we can expect to see even greater improvements, like those listed in this Archive of the top ten futuristic advances in medicine.
Companies like the American-based Cryonics Institute are hoping to offer terminally ill patients the ability to survive until a time of more advanced medicine. By freezing the patient’s body, CI is halting the “death process” and giving the afflicted the chance to wake up in a time when today’s fatal diseases are as harmful as the common cold. Though it sounds like science fiction, CI alleges to have over 1,600 members and, in 2014, a Pittsburg hospital executed the first suspended animation trials, which involved replacing blood with a cold saline solution, thus ceasing cellular activity.
The days of wait-listed transplant patients could be a thing of the past if the science behind organ cloning holds up. In 2014, researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University successfully created stem cells from cells from adult human skin. The process involves creating embryos to siphon stem cells from, which could then, with further research, be manipulated into the required organ. While there is currently debate taking place about the morality of using embryos for stem cell research, the ability to eradicate or greatly diminish a list of over 110,000 wait-listed patients could be a reality.
3D Printed Organs
3D printing isn’t a new technology, but the ability to print functional 3D human organs is one that may be just on the horizon soon enough. During the 2015 Inside 3D Printing Conference, researchers at Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University unveiled a printed outer ear prototype built from hydrogel, silver nanoparticles, and cells that formed cartilage. While it may be unlikely – at least in our lifetime – that a 3D printed, functional heart would be produced, regenerative medicine researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina allegedly implanted 3D printed bone, ear, and muscle structure into a living animal, which then formed tissue and blood vessels.
Like augmented reality, virtual reality has found popularity in real world use but has also begun creeping its way into the field of medicine. Believe it or not, the technology some considered a short-lived gimmick was found to have a range of possible uses in the treatment of pain and post-traumatic stress disorder and the assessment of brain damage and subsequent rehabilitation. While not widely popular across all medical fields, virtual reality may soon become a staple in surgical training, meditation, and even in the treatment of phobias through exposure therapy.
Video gaming may have run with augmented reality, but the future of medicine will likely utilize the technology in unique and helpful ways. AR has had minimal use in the field of medicine with apps like EyeDecide, which helps patients better describe their symptoms, and AccuVein, which cuts down on missed veins, but advancements are on the horizon. Software designed by Medsights Tech is a step towards making surgeons more efficient in the operating room while HoloAnatomy, which runs off of Microsoft’s HoloLens, creates anatomically accurate and interactive models for medical research purposes.
The advent of nanotechnology is exciting across multiple fields, but its implementation in medicine could change the name of the game forever. Nanomedicine, or the use of nanotechnology for medicinal purposes, will use nanoshells and nanoparticles to either assist in drug delivery to specific cells or aid in the treatment of cancer and other detrimental illnesses. The nanoparticle is believed to be small enough to avoid detection by the immune system, giving it the chance to travel throughout the body without being attacked and compromised. Additional applications in nanomedicine include linking the nervous system to an external computer, tissue and wound repair, and cell imaging.
It’s not uncommon for television shows to be ahead of their time, so don’t be too perplexed when you hear that the Star Trek medical tricorder may soon be a real-life gadget in your home. Just as in the series, the handheld tricorder is being designed to scan a person to diagnose their state of health. The consumer-level device will measure vital signs, including blood pressure and temperature, similar to early, direct-contact versions known as the Scanadu Scout and CheckMe. Unlike the Scanadu and CheckMe devices, though, the future Tricorder is meant to also fully scope out ailments for at-home diagnosis, just as in the Trek universe.
Today, when you receive a treatment or are screened for a specific illness, it’s generally based off of data of the ailment rather than the person. Personalized medicine, which is based on molecular diagnostics and an individual’s personal genetics, will look deeper into a patient’s inner-workings to determine the absolute best treatment method. Maybe even more useful than that is the belief that by understanding individual genetics, doctors will be able to determine the likelihood of contracting an illness.
In Silico Clinical Trials
Clinical trials typically involve testing a treatment method on a group of selected afflicted individuals or animals to better monitor side effects and efficiency. In silico trials will look to remove the human and “living” factor from the equation, instead, using a microchip that can mimic the human physiology. Current technology and understanding of human biology don't quite allow for simulated clinical trials, but continued research into the human body will eventually make it possible for these microchips to be used in place of living subjects. Mimicking individual organs and cells, these small chips will ultimately reduce the cost and length of clinical trials.
Imagine a pill that not only administers your prescribed dose of medicine but then proceeds to transmit data back to your caregiver. It’s a somewhat old concept that hasn’t seen real-world application, but German-based Medimetrics has started the process of bringing it to life with IntelliCap technology. Made up of a delivery pump, microcontroller, and wireless communication, the IntelliCap will measure internal factors, transmit data to an external device, and even use this information to better administer a proper dose. Later implementation of electronic pills may help in the research of microbiota of the gut and how it relates to certain health conditions.