The world can be a scary place. Natural disasters. War. Disease. These are just a few of the issues that humans still routinely face in the world. And despite our best attempts to eradicate the danger and risk that these problems bring, life is as unpredictable now as it was a thousand years ago, with many of the same difficulties wreaking the same type of havoc. The good news, though, is that humans are now much better equipped to handle the obstacles thrown in our way. With technology bolstering our advanced understanding of the biological, cosmological, and sociological underpinnings of life, we can meet and overcome challenges that might have crippled us in the past. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of medicine. Take a look at three innovations (from just the last few decades) that could save your life one day:
The use of stem cells in the 1950s and the continued research that followed has made induced tissue regeneration a reality. From initial work with bone marrow transplants, science has led us to companies specifically tasked with growing bones, retinas, and more. Indeed, to date, stem cells have been transplanted into patients for a variety of conditions, successfully alleviating the effects of cancer, macular degeneration, certain immunodeficiencies, as well as some genetic metabolic disorders. Physicians even use stem cells for rotator cuff tears, back pain, and erectile dysfunction! As clinical trials continue to validate advancing research, in the future, you might be able to use stem cells to eliminate the degenerative and age-related disease, treat paralysis, and beat cancer altogether!
The mighty computer has done more than facilitate worldwide entertainment via the Internet. It has spurred the development of advanced machine learning, a seemingly sci-fi innovation that, in turn, is revolutionizing medicine and saving lives. With AI, doctors now have assistance with many of their daily tasks utilizing software programs that can offer virtual triage support, read x-rays, monitor treatment, and diagnose disease. All of this support allows doctors to identify a problem more quickly, eliminate errors and costs, and spend more time with patients. It’s a win-win for them and potentially life-saving for the patients they treat.
In 2003, scientists completed the mapping of the human genome, making it easier for us to explore, identify and treat the molecular causes of human disease since we now have something to which we can compare them. The implications of this type of research are astounding. By editing genetic sequences with molecular editing tools such as CRISPR-Cas9, science can now potentially cure many inherited diseases (like sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, and Huntington’s disease), as well as accelerate advances in the way we treat HIV, cancer, heart disease, and many mental illnesses. There’s little doubt that the next decades will bring more opportunities for us to explore and cure diseases that affect millions of people throughout the world – possibly you.