In today’s world of ever-growing technology when everything is becoming automated and the machines are practically taking over many aspects of our lives, we cannot help but wonder: is technology bad for our health? And the answer is – it can be if we misuse it.
However, if used for a good cause, technology becomes our best ally. There is a vast number of tech solutions that have changed our lives for the better, especially when it comes to the medical industry. In this article, we will mention several innovations to show you a glimpse of how the medical industry will be improved in the years to come.
1. IoT for Healthcare
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a popular topic nowadays, as it has made our lives much easier by enabling us to connect practically all of our devices to a network that can be controlled remotely. In healthcare, IoT can be used to remotely monitor your patients’ health, manage hospital assets, configure devices, track staff and much more.
Some companies have already created open source IoT platforms that can allow healthcare system adopters to implement smart features to software systems and medical devices, as well as to enable cross-device connectivity.
2. Augmented Reality
Google has patented a digital contact lens that will be able to measure the levels of glucose in the blood from our tears. Although the prototype of this lens is still going through testing, scientists expect that it will immensely improve diabetes management and offer great benefits to patients.
Furthermore, a German clinic started using augmented reality in the OR, enabling surgeons to see through blood vessels or other anatomical structures without having to open organs, so that they can make precise incisions.
3. 3D Printing
3D printing has enabled us to print all sorts of objects, so it won’t come as a surprise if we soon start printing drugs. There are already some examples of 3D printing in medicine – “Enabling the Future” project is a network of volunteers helping impaired people by sharing tutorials and other helpful info about building prosthetic hands.
They have already helped numerous people around the world, including countries such as Indonesia, Ghana, Chile, and many more.
iKnife is the intelligent surgical knife that was invented by Zoltan Takats from the Imperial College in London. It works by using electrical current to heat tissue and then make incisions with minimum blood loss.
The vaporized smoke coming from the knife is then analyzed by a spectrometer in order to detect the chemicals from the biological sample. This enables surgeons to determine whether the tissue is malignant or not in real time, and it significantly reduces the time it takes to perform operations.
5. Synthetic Heart Hormones
Heart diseases still remain the number one cause of death in the US and many other countries as well. To be more precise, 1 out of 4 people hospitalized for some kind of a heart disease don’t usually last more than a year.
Luckily, there is a new drug – Serelaxin, which is basically a synthetic version of relaxin, a hormone produced by pregnant women. It is said that it can increase the survival odds by 37 percent. Although it still hasn’t been FDA approved, it’s currently being developed even further so that it fits the standards.
6. Blood Anti-aging
It’s predicted that a new treatment will be available in the future that enables people younger than 25 to reverse the effects of aging. Alkahest is one of the companies conducting research to determine the key proteins in plasma which affect the aging of human tissue, with a goal of manufacturing a product that uses these proteins.
Alkahest will divide human plasma into fractions rich in different kinds of proteins and test them on mice to find out if they have a capacity to boost their brain function. This is supposed to represent the first generation of their products. Amazing as this sounds, it might take around 10-15 years for scientists to complete it.
7. Genome Editing
Genome editing is a process of making changes to the DNA of an organism or a cell. It’s done with an enzyme that cuts the DNA at a particular sequence, and repairs it in a cell, after which a change is made to this sequence.
Intellia, one of the most famous genome editing companies, is focused on developing the proprietary curative therapeutics by utilizing the CRISPR/Cas9 system – a newly developed biological tool. They believe that this new technology has an ability to completely transform the world of medicine by editing diseased genes with one single treatment.
8. The Use of Optogenetics
Optogenetics is a biological technique that uses light in order to control cells in tissues, usually genetically modified neurons that can expression channels sensitive to light. It is believed that optogenetics will offer new therapy solutions in the near future.
According to a recent study, scientists were able to create false memories in the hippocampal area of mice. Although this sounds completely futuristic, the base of this method is almost available even now.
9. Bio-absorbable Coronary Stents
More than 500,000 people annually have coronary stents placed in their chest in order to treat the blockage of the coronary artery. These stents are made of metal and usually stay in human bodies forever, even if their mission is complete, which can cause some serious complications such as blood clots.
Fortunately, there are now bio-absorbable stents made of a dissolvable polymer which dissolve after they’ve served their purpose. There is only one version of such stents which has been FDA approved, but more are expected in the near future.
To sum up, as you can see, technology can be such an incredible tool if used wisely. Although some of the above-mentioned innovations are still in the development process and they might sound almost impossible, the future is near!