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DaVinci Coders
January 7th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

7 top medical breakthroughs coming in the next decade

nanobot

Nanobot

An effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, a cure for the common cold, gene therapy that destroys cancers, transplant organs grown in the lab.  These medical miracles are no longer the dreams of science fiction, but are likely coming in the next decade, say experts.

Researchers are on the verge of a host of exciting new developments that were pure fantasy just a short time ago. “Science fiction is becoming science fact every day,” respected futurist Glen Hiemstra  tells Newsmax. “The next 10 years promises to be the most exciting ever in terms of medical discoveries.”

Here’s a glimpse of amazing advances in healthcare we can expect in the coming decade that will transform lives — and prolong them.

1. Nanobots
Doctors will use “smart bomb” nanobots — atom-sized particles so small they’re invisible to many microscopes — to destroy deadly cancer tumors.

Already research has shown that gold-plated nanospheres — tiny ballshaped particles — can seek out and get inside cancer cells. They then can be made to “cook” and kill the cancer when they’re zapped with infra-red light to heat them up.

This all happens without any destruction to the surrounding healthy cells.

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“This technique is very promising and exciting,” says Dr. Jin Zhang, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California in Santa Cruz, who came up with the treatment. “It’s basically like putting a cancer cell in hot water and boiling it to death.

“The more heat the metal nanospheres generate, the better.”

In the coming years, it is expected that more advanced nanobots will be sent on medical missions inside the body, where they’ll be able to replace inherited genes that cause genetic diseases. Down the road, they potentially could erase the damage and mutations that lead to human aging — keeping our bodies young and healthy.

Hiemstra, a consultant to major companies and government agencies on future trends, says the time is right: “This is one of the most exciting areas of medical research right now.”

2. Cure for the Common Cold and HIV
It could be the greatest medical discovery since penicillin — a do-it-all drug that can cure every virus from the common cold to HIV.

Researchers at MIT created the drug, called DRACO, which tracks down infected cells and makes them self-destruct.

They say its hit list also includes flu, polio, stomach bugs, deadly dengue fever, measles, cold sores, and rabies. “It’s certainly possible that there’s some virus that we aren’t able to treat, but we haven’t found it yet,” says lead researcher Todd Rider.  “We hope that this will revolutionize the treatment of viral infections.”

In lab tests DRACO has killed 15 viruses and saved the lives of test mice given a dose of flu that should have killed them. Incredibly, it works so quickly that if taken early enough, it should stop any symptoms from appearing. Human testing is expected to begin soon.

3. No More Transplant Waiting Lists

Scientists will grow new organs to replace diseased and damaged ones, thanks to incredible advances in regenerative medicine, an offshoot of bioengineering.

Bladders have been grown in a laboratory and successfully implanted into patients.

Soon, using tissue from the patient’s own existing organ and synthetic materials, doctors will be able to regenerate cells for skin, bone, cartilage, muscle, marrow, and other body parts.

It won’t just mean dramatic improvements in medical care for millions — it’ll save millions in medical costs. And it will mean an end to the long wait for donor organs.

4. Gene Therapy to Cure Cancer
Exciting breakthroughs in boosting the body’s immune system through gene therapy mean scientists will be able to tweak the body’s own defense mechanism to fight off a range of deadly cancers. A team from the University of Pennsylvania has shown they can genetically engineer a patient’s T cells — a type of white blood cell — to successfully attack cancer cells in advanced cases of a common type of leukemia.

Astonishingly, the therapy was so powerful, tumors were destroyed within three weeks, says Dr. Carl June, who’s leading the research. Now they hope they’ll be able to use the same treatment for many other cancers, including breast and colon. It’s been hailed as a huge advance.

5. Alzheimer’s
Scientists are confident that in the next decade they’ll develop treatments that will be able to stop Alzheimer’s disease in its tracks before it causes irreversible brain damage.

They have come up with molecules that can attack and destroy harmful proteins that build up in sufferers’ brains. These proteins can kill nerves that cause the symptoms of dementia such as memory loss and confusion.

Professor David Allsop, of Lancaster University in England — who’s heading the research — is also working on a method of diagnosing Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear. He’s dedicating his work to his grandfather, who suffered from the disease.

6. Stroke
For the first time, stroke victims will regain movement of paralyzed limbs, thanks to a simple nasal spray.

Biologists at the University of California, Irvine, have come up with a groundbreaking treatment using a natural protein called TGF alpha, which plays a role in tissue formation.

Studies found it can restore 99 percent of movement in rats if applied to the brains after a debilitating stroke. Human trials are now in the offing.

“TGF alpha has been shown to repair damage long after a stroke,” James Fallon, psychiatry and human behavior professor and senior co-author of the studies says. “We believe this same therapy will be effective in Parkinson’s and a number of other brain injuries and diseases. The potential for using this therapy in humans is very exciting.”

7. Blood Test to Predict Your Medical Future
“Ten years from now a simple blood test will be able to predict the future health of every major organ,” says Hiemstra.

Patients will then be able to take steps to prevent the onset of health problems. It will be commonplace to have a bad combination of genes repaired to avoid disease.

“This will result in much greater longevity,” adds Hiemstra. “We’ll have a lot more healthy 100-year-olds.”

Glen Hiemstra via Futurist.com

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