In today’s technological age, it seems advancements in all fields leap forward by the day. Medical technology certainly hasn’t been left out of the loop, and some of the breakthroughs in modern medicine have been quite revolutionary and had a huge impact. But where will the field of medicine be in 20 years from now? What major advancements are waiting just around the next corner? In this article we will consider just two of the biggest technologies that are emerging over the horizon.
We have computers everywhere these days, but it’s not just the ones on our desks that we use to surf the net. We have computer chips in washing machines and just about all of our other appliances too. In the realm of science fiction (all too often a prediction of future science) we have seen technologically enhanced humans with superhuman abilities but what if those technologies were real and used for medical purposes?
Scientists have been working for years on implementing a special kind of microchip known as a “neuroprosthetic chip” that can be implanted into the brain. This chip helps to decipher signals in the brain when the brain itself cannot, and to trigger the appropriate responses. For example, the chip could help to control epileptic seizures, or help a patient suffering with paralysis to control prosthetic limbs with thought alone.
Stem Cell Research
One of the most talked about areas of medical technology today is stem cell research. With the first human trials currently taking place to determine the safety of human treatment, stem cell technology may not be too far away. The basis of stem cell therapy is regenerative: stem cells help the body to form new cells and generate tissue. If we can harness the power of stem cells for medical use, we may be able to cure paralysis, blindness, heart disease and diabetes, treat stroke patients and repair damaged organs and tissues, helping the body to regenerate and cure itself. Some people are even optimistic that stem cell research could lead to curing cancer!
Stem cell research has been the subject of much controversy. The needed stem cells are actually taken from embryos developed using IVF techniques as there are often surplus embryos and these are donated for scientific use. The stem cells gathered in this way are generic and have no predetermined cell type, which enables scientists to force the stem cells to become a specific, needed type of cell that can be injected into a patient in need of them. The embryos are only a few days old and about the size of a full stop (period), but there are many who think that stem cell research is just plain wrong; that it is “playing God” with an unborn child. This may all change as new research shed light on the ability to use adult stem cells, but only time will tell.
Nanotechnology, especially nanomedicine, are advancing significantly day by day. Nanoparticles are being already used in many products (mainly in cosmetics), but other spheres such as pharmaceutics and general medicine are slowly applying nanotechnology standards.
Nanomedicine, along with stem cells research, will probably change the way the world sees medicine. Many experts predict that it will change everything.
This was just a brief look at what the future of medicine may hold for us, but with these and many more exciting technologies rapidly emerging that future certainly looks bright.