Scientific developments continue to expand at an astounding rate, and they’re affecting people across all aspects of their lives. Healthcare, an integral component of the economy and a sector that all people eventually deal with, has significantly benefited from advances in the areas of technology, research, and basic sciences.
Essentially, FilmArray technology is a multiplex PCR system that enables rapid and detailed testing of DNA samples. What’s the advantage? Let’s say an individual doctor wants to figure out what infection a patient has. They can take a relevant sample (respiratory, blood, etc.) and use FilmArray-based technology to screen the sample and cross-check it against many different types of known infections for a quick diagnosis. The respiratory panel checks 20 viruses at once. A “Meningitis Encephalitis” panel can test CSF fluid (obtained from the spine) for multiple types of pathogens.
CRISPR forms the basis for a new age in research that allows scientists to actively edit an organism’s genome by manipulating sections of the DNA sequence. New companies like KSQ Therapeutics are working to employ CRISPR in the search for drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. The possibilities are seemingly endless. There are ongoing plans to test the technology for treating conditions like Beta Thalassemia.
Chemotherapy poses a challenge as it’s difficult to narrow cell destruction to the extent that one can avoid harmful side effects (e.g., bone marrow suppression, hair loss, and so on). Cancer immunotherapy utilizes the body’s immune system as a weapon against malignancies.
Exciting developments in Bioelectronics are making healthcare more accessible. For instance, the GPhone inserts a blood glucose sensor into a smartphone. Electroceuticals are being employed for conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson’s, where a device is embedded in the skull and then uses electrical neurostimulation for treatment.
Ongoing Vaccine Development
With the recent prevalence of Ebola and the Zika Virus, nature has shown the pursuit of vaccines must continue. At the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, scientists are working on an animal model to mimic Zika infection (e.g., the way it sticks around in body fluids) to pursue further research and testing.
Interestingly, the development of new technologies has also opened up new potential jobs for physicians. Just as some physicians have historically left clinical practice to assist with tasks like pharmaceutical development and consulting, major advances in biomedical engineering and startup companies have been pulling in physicians for new careers that employ their expertise in exciting ways. As healthcare needs continue, and diseases evolve, the search for new scientific developments will undoubtedly be a focal point of emphasis for medical research.