We’re overdue for flying cars and teleportation, but we’ve already made some amazing accomplishments – and we’ve got more coming in the immediate future. You don’t want to be last to find out about these impressive innovations that could impact medicine in the next decade and beyond.
Genetically modified diseases
Researchers are thinking small to produce big results. Whether it’s harnessing a strain of the rabies virus to scan the brain for abnormalities or targeting harmful bacteria with microtweeting instead of antibiotics, these innovations have shown promise in early trials.
Although somewhat controversial, gene editing could help prevent genetic diseases for future generations. Genes found in animals with certain traits (such as elephants’ natural immunity to the disease) can be implemented in humans to fight cancer or increase longevity. Scientists are currently implementing genetic modifications into the mosquito population to fight the spread of malaria and the Zika virus.
Scientists are on their way to creating artificial tissue and growing healthy organs, so that patients aren’t reliant on organ donors. Some researchers have even produced muscle tissue in a cotton candy machine.
Dissolvable medical devices
You may be familiar with dissolvable stitches, but what about a stent that dissolves after an artery has recovered from angioplasty? These devices can also be used to monitor a patient’s health. Scientists are developing a brain sensor that can track a patient’s post-op progress weeks later without resorting to obstructive surgery.
Physical exams for mental illness
Recent research has proven that mental illness has physical origins. Why not diagnose with physical tests? Brains scans could be used to determine if someone is at risk for depression, a swab for throat bacteria could determine whether you have schizophrenia, and a simple blood test could detect suicide risk.
Better medicine through data
As the amount of detailed patient information increases, so does the need to unpack its meaning. Medical students are being trained to analyze these data dumps, thus improving diagnoses and possibly preventing epidemics in their most nascent stage.
Optimizing the body’s natural defenses
Sometimes the most innovative way to solve a challenge is hiding in plain sight. Instead of fighting heart disease with heart medicine, scientists are experimenting with altering gut microbes to improve cardio health. In other studies, immunologists have had success combining lower dosages of particular medications with a conditioning regimen, slowly training the body to replicate the positive effects of the drug even when the drug isn’t administered.
Video game therapy
We’re not talking about playing Fallout 4 to get your mind off next week’s test. Psychiatrists have been developing video games that improve cognition. One game in particular could be used as a primary treatment for ADHD — probably the most literal meaning of “level up” yet.
Drone hospital deliveries
One blood test for all known viruses
Researchers may have discovered the blood test equivalent of the One Ring – one test to rule them all (VirCapSeq-VERT), one test to find them (the viruses), one test to bring them all (to a physician), and in darkness bind them (this is probably the lab room).