August 11, 2010
Medical Trends: Tech Advancements is Making Everything SmallerEverything is getting smaller from assisted living contact lenses to ensure you don't take the wrong medication when you get older to nanobots performing a number of medical functions.
Basic nanomachines are already in use today with nanobots being the next generation of nanomachines. Nanobots will be able to autonomously move through our system and perform micro-surgery as they go. As we 'go smaller,' nanobots will not only work inside of us, but they'll perform miracles on the lab side as well.
Engineers have been able to shrink a laboratory onto a chip as well as well as turn a cell phone into a microscope. We'll also be able to use nanobots to augment our blood supply and our immune system, as well as clean out our arteries.
Other developments I learned in a lecture by Stanford's Daniel Kraft who was addressing Singularity University students at NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, were around regenerative medicine, stem cell research and bone marrow transplants.
In treating cancer, there are many more targeted treatments happening, such as more specific, and less invasive diagnostics. They're doing research with animals, where dogs can detect through 'smell' whether someone is 'diseased' or not. They're currently working on nano-based noses that can very reliably predict who has disease and who doesn't. In the future, a breathalizer test may be enough to detect whether someone has cancer or not.....and a dog's nose might be your screen.
Stem Cells allow you to do a number of important things, including re-grow skin and build new limbs. Merely turning on the right genes in the right order allows for the possibility of re-creating a new limb if you have lost one.
In order to be a stem cell, the cell has to be able to self renew as well as give rise to mature, specialized cells. As for stem cell sources, you can harvest stem cells through bone marrow as well as through your blood and other places.
"Stem cells seem to know where to go and what to do when put in the right environment," says Daniel. He gives us examples of regrowth and re-creation using stem cells, including the possibility of rebuilding a new bladder using your own cells on a scaffold. There are so many patients who die every year waiting for an organ. Imagine being able to re-create organs so the tragedy of lack of organs or the inability to recreate them is a thing of the past?
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