To have a high-level health system, we will have to constantly consider and adjust what we do. Consequently, we will have to be open to innovation and recognize the problems in the current situation. Will the methods and approaches to health system practice of the last decades be appropriate for the people of tomorrow? Innovations in the health system are much more than research, the development of new drugs, or shiny new machines: it is extremely important to prepare for innovations, apply new ways of thinking, and solve problems. Keeping this in our mind, we are going to talk about 7 amazing healthcare innovations we should prepare for.
Doug Melton’s Cure for Type 1 Diabetes
According to a scientific article, the prevalence of type 1 diabetes is increasing in the world. Harvard biologist Doug Melton has two children who also have type 1 diabetes. Today, one of the treatments of type 1 diabetes involves a careful diet and eating, insulin injections, and multiple daily blood-glucose tests. Melton has an idea. He researches how to use stem cells to create a replacement for cells that produce insulin. The company opened approximately 10 years ago. Today, he has created a small device that is implanted in the human body and holds millions of cells that can produce insulin in our bloodstreams.
David Andrew Sinclair: Scientist Trying to Reverse Aging
Everyone wants to look young and live a beautiful and long life. Today, even scientists are interested in aging processes and innovations that support a healthy aging population. David Andrew Sinclair is an Australian biologist who is a professor of genetics and a leader of the Aging Research group at Harvard Medical School. He is a pioneer in understanding the processes of why and how we age. He has researched aging for decades but he is interested more specifically in the role of sirtuins. The epigenome is a term related to a modification of DNA and histone proteins that regulate the expression of genes within the genome. Sirtuins are proteins that repair DNA damage and help regulate gene expression. If we age, DNA repair mechanisms slow down, and the epigenome becomes dysregulated. So, scientists are finding new ways to slow down aging processes or even reverse them, including research on NMN, resveratrol, and other chemical compounds.
Jim Allison and Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy is a future cancer treatment that has the potential to significantly extend survival for cancer patients. Immunotherapy reduces the negative side effects in comparison with chemotherapy. By discovering a way to free the immune system to attack tumors, Jim Allison is called one of the pioneers of immunotherapy. If we can activate small and important molecules on the surface of immune cells that were suppressed during the development of cancer, the immune response will recover. This is how the new generation of immunotherapy works. It is already registered and used for the treatment of metastatic cancer in some localizations. Once the immune response is restored, the cancer cells will naturally be eliminated. Even if there is no cancer site identified, the immune cells still will find it and eliminate it.
Start-up Exiom: 3D printing in medicine
3D printing means that an object of any size or shape can be made by layering a special material in one continuous process. In medicine, 3D technologies are used to produce personalized medical devices and surgical guides. 3D technology will lead to a global breakthrough in medicine when, by combining materials and living cells, we will start producing artificial parts of the human body with 3D printers. We can expect this around 2030. Meanwhile, the use of 3D technologies in the field of orthopedics, traumatology, facial surgery, dentistry, as well as neurosurgery, cardiology, and many other areas is already present. For instance, Exiom is a US startup that produces customized solutions to heal fractures and sprains by using 3D scanning and printing. The startup develops a device that adapts immobilization to each patient’s condition.
Virtual Reality (VR): Is It a New Pain Killer?
VR technologies are becoming more and more popular in rescuing patients who need help during a particularly difficult period of treatment. The companies have created an initiative that helps oncology patients fight the stress experienced during chemotherapy treatment. Patients use virtual reality glasses. With virtual reality glasses, patients can escape from reality, travel to any part of the world, and do whatever they want – jump with a parachute, sail a yacht, or pet animals in a zoo. A similar practice is increasingly used to relieve pain experienced by patients. It has been observed that reducing the level of stress and pain with virtual reality glasses has a positive influence on the effectiveness of the treatment.
Biobanking: Why Is It So Important?
The large quantities of high-quality biological samples and health information for scientific research in biobanks are important because researchers can conduct larger, more diverse research that would simply not be possible without biobanks. Around the world, many medicines and vaccines are developed using biological samples and health information stored in biobanks. For example, antiviral vaccines for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus have been developed using biological samples from around the world. In the USA, biological samples of tumors from various localizations have been collected from all over the world and a “cancer gene map” has been compiled to create new cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies. These days, coronavirus-infected samples and personal health information are being collected. Due to these biobanks, the world has already developed an effective vaccine against the SARS-Cov-2 virus.
Foreseeable Future: CRISPR-Cas9 and Medicine
The invention of the CRISPR-Cas9 or genetic scissors rocked the scientific world with the realization that it was a technology that could revolutionize the life sciences. Today, the most known scientists who make new investigations related to genetic scissors are Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer Doudna, and Virginijus Šikšnys. Using this tool, scientists can change the DNA of animals, plants, and microorganisms. This genome editing technique has also contributed to innovative cancer treatments. It is hoped that in the future, this technology will allow the curing of most complex diseases, including AIDS caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Down’s syndrome, and hereditary heart defects.