Medical research has advanced in leaps and bounds during recent times. Indeed, it seems as if a new therapy or treatment option is available each and every month. In truth, this momentum is based off of hundreds of years of development. While the sheer scope is difficult to measure, it is still a good idea to take a look at a few of the fields which show great promise for this century and beyond.
Vaccines tend to make the news the most, as they have the potential to cure or prevent potentially deadly diseases. A perfect example of this is the recent progression made with a vaccine against Ebola. As this virus has already killed thousands in Africa, any respite from its ravages is quite welcome.
Gene therapy is a process which uses existing genes to prevent or predict a disease. This is beneficial for two main reasons. First, it may be possible to detect genetic abnormalities which lead to disease much earlier in life (aiding in prevention). Also, these same genes could be inserted directly into cells; precluding the need for dangerous medicines or other treatments. Of course, gene therapy is still in its early stages.
This is one of the most frequently overlooked advancements due in no small part to its massive scope. We must never forget that doctors and researchers have a wider access to important data than ever before. Diseases can be reported and detected nearly instantaneously. In turn, this will help to control the spread of deadly viruses (such as the previously mentioned Ebola). Also, this monitoring helps professionals to better understand how diseases travel within the human and animal population. A robust appreciation of this behaviour may very well lead to more targeted treatment options in the future.
These three areas will be interesting to watch as we progress further into the 21st century. Massive changes tend not to happen overnight and yet their impact is nonetheless very real. Barring a massive human or natural disaster, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that this progression will continue to amaze us during the years and decades ahead. The term “brave new world” is certainly appropriate.