What Will Medical Technology Look Like in 2025?

Take a trip to the future of medicine in these excerpts from TED Talks. What might 2025 hold?

Patient-specific pluripotent stem cell lines stored in the freezer until they’re needed for regenerative therapy. Medical devices embedded in clothing that send signals when something goes wrong. Patients taking ownership of their own bodies and their own data. And nanotechnologies to detect and treat cancer. The brave new world may also be a healthier world.

From Induced pluripotent stem cells. A new resource in modern medicine:

Pluripotent stem cells possess a remarkable unlimited self-renewal capacity and offer unparalleled in vitro differentiation potential. This provides a unique model system not only to study early human development but also gives renewed hope in terms of developing cell therapies and regenerative medicine. S. Yamanaka, a medical doctor and researcher, reported the possibility of reprogramming somatic cells to so-called induced pluripotent stem cells via the ectopic expression of four transcription factors, namely Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc. This Nobel Prize winning work has since revolutionized stem cell research and paved the way for countless new avenues within regenerative medicine. This includes disease modeling in a patient-specific context with the ultimate aim of individually tailored pharmaceutical therapy. Additionally, genetic correction studies have rapidly increased in basic science and thus there is hope that these can be effectively and efficiently translated into clinical applications. Addressing the medical community this review gives a broad general overview about the state of the research field and possible clinical applications of pluripotent stem cells.

The aging population, prevalence of chronic diseases, and outbreaks of infectious diseases are some of the major challenges of our present-day society. To address these unmet healthcare needs, especially for the early prediction and treatment of major diseases, health informatics, which deals with the acquisition, transmission, processing, storage, retrieval, and use of health information, has emerged as an active area of interdisciplinary research. In particular, acquisition of health-related information by unobtrusive sensing and wearable technologies is considered as a cornerstone in health informatics. Sensors can be weaved or integrated into clothing, accessories, and the living environment, such that health information can be acquired seamlessly and pervasively in daily living. Sensors can even be designed as stick-on electronic tattoos or directly printed onto human skin to enable long-term health monitoring. This paper aims to provide an overview of four emerging unobtrusive and wearable technologies, which are essential to the realization of pervasive health information acquisition, including: (1) unobtrusive sensing methods, (2) smart textile technology, (3) flexible-stretchable-printable electronics, and (4) sensor fusion, and then to identify some future directions of research.

From the Koch Institute of Integrated Cancer Research:

Most cancer drugs are blunt instruments. We are working at the molecular level to engineer new therapeutic agents that can home in on cancer cells and selectively destroy them.  Designing these nanoscale “smart bombs” requires multiple rapidly advancing technologies and the expertise to combine them.  Critical components of therapeutic nanoparticles include:  (1) a targeting mechanism such as an antibody or aptamer that identifies cancer cells by the molecules they express; (2) a destructive mechanism such as a drug, antibody or RNA interference (RNAi) molecule that disables cancer cells; and (3) molecular packaging such as a liposome or other material that allows the therapeutic agent to traverse the body efficiently.

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