It appears that the field of medicine is at the verge of a significant leap forward thanks to numerous emerging technologies and discoveries about human biology. The growing speed at which science and technology seem to move forward elicits a reflection about the current state of affairs and how we want things to be in the future. As a result, many theorists and scientists are casting interesting predictions of what's in store for human health care in the couple of next decades. 3D printing, stem cell research, genetic engineering, machine learning and other breakthroughs seem to bring humans closer to realities that were mere science fiction not many years ago. Here are two significant developments that could become a reality within 10 years.
Gene therapy eradicates cancer - Cancerous cells are practically immortal, dividing and spreading endlessly until they eventually begin to affect vital organs and cause death. This happens because, unlike normal cells, cancerous cells lack a self-termination mechanism - their telomeres are limitless. In other words, cancerous cells lack a Hayflick limit (the maximum number of divisions a cell population can undergo).
Gene therapy is a powerful approach that enables effective prevention and treatment of a wide variety of cancers. It can be employed through multiple methods - gene editing, telomerase vaccines, etc. While it looks like its widespread use in humans still has significant ethical hurdles to overcome, the therapeutic value of gene therapy is more than evident and strong enough to outweigh ethical concerns. Several gene therapy trials have already cured cancers in humans and animals. The first commercial product based on this principle was Gendicine, released in China in 2003. It targets the p52 protein. In the next few years, gene therapy could completely eradicate cancer for the first time in history.
Truly effective anti-aging drugs - Many commercially available supplements contain substances that presumably slow down or even reverse aging. However, none of these products has yet shown to be more than a marketing bait. Anti-aging is an area of prolific research. While the full mechanisms of aging aren't yet fully understood, a prominent theory in the scientific community proposes that senescence results from DNA damage accumulated over one's life. Additionally, it is now understood that maximum lifespan is largely predefined in our genes (telomeres once again).
Learning how young blood transfusions and caloric restriction have effectively rejuvenated animals in notable experiments, scientists are getting closer to the real anti-aging Holy Grail for humans. A few exciting new developments include NAD+ booster drugs and old blood rejuvenation with osteopontin protein. These methods have shown excellent results in animal studies and are soon expected to undergo clinical trials. Effective drugs could be commercially delivered in just five years, some experts say. All this while BioViva has already been in the process of testing anti-aging gene therapy in humans.