Biotechnology advances are allowing scientists to create drugs and vaccines that improve human health. Among the most notable advances are new medications like AbbVie’s Humira and Roche’s Rituxan that treat autoimmune diseases.
However, biotechnology also brings risks like unforeseen allergies and the potential for living organisms to escape from laboratories.
Advancements in Medicine
Biotechnology advances have improved methods for detecting disease, developing new vaccines, and creating faster, more accurate diagnostic tests. Molecular techniques also enable scientists to better understand how healthy bodies work, and what goes wrong when disease strikes.
Physicians can now treat patients using remote technology, for example, video conferencing and smartphone apps that allow them to communicate with their patients in real time. Medical professionals can even use a patient’s own cells to repair damaged organs or create synthetic and artificial ones, including hearts.
The development of regenerative medicine has led to the creation of a variety of growth factors, such as epidermal growth factor, which promotes wound healing; erythropoietin, which stimulates red blood cell formation; fibroblast growth factor, which encourages bone and tissue growth; and nerve growth factor, which helps rewire brain cells after traumatic injury. In addition, growth factor therapies can be used to help cure degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Vaccines and immunotherapies can also be used to treat cancer.
Advancements in Surgery
In the last 50 years, advances in medicine have enabled us to greatly increase the average life-span. Men born in 1950 could expect to live to 66 and women to 71; today they can expect to live until 73 or 79.
Surgery, too, is undergoing transformation. The emergence of laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery has made operations less invasive.
Surgical imaging has also improved patient outcomes. It is now possible to perform image-guided surgery with high resolution, 3-D images that enable surgeons to navigate with greater precision and accuracy.
Robots are making it possible for surgeons to perform surgery from a remote location, expanding access to healthcare in remote or underserved areas. They can also rehearse the operation using virtual reality surgical simulation. This helps to reduce variation in surgical performance between surgeons. However, surgeons still need to be able to make clinical decisions during surgery. Therefore, it is important that the human element of managing patients with empathy is not lost.
Advancements in Agriculture
Agricultural biotechnology is helping to boost food production and improve crop quality. The technology is also addressing concerns about environmental damage from traditional farming practices, such as the loss of biodiversity and soil degradation.
Biotechnology has helped farmers produce crops that are more resilient to weather conditions, resist pests and diseases, and have a higher nutritional value. It is also enabling them to cut their use of chemicals that contaminate the environment and human health.
In addition to genetically modified crops, biotechnology has also been used for other purposes related to agriculture, such as making antibiotic production more efficient through microbial fermentation and producing new animal vaccines for foot and mouth disease and rabies. The technology is also facilitating more precision agriculture through sensors, wireless technologies, and robotic devices. However, the farmers need to have the proper connectivity infrastructure and digital tools for the technology to be useful to them. Also, governments need to support agricultural innovation by strengthening domestic research systems and encouraging private R&D.
Advancements in Technology
Technology has transformed countless industries, and healthcare is no exception. From MRI scans to 3D printing, there are a multitude of advancements that help doctors and patients alike.
One of the most noticeable advantages of these technologies is their ease of use and accessibility for patients. Medical devices and health trackers make it easy for patients to monitor their health, connect with their doctor online, and get a more personalized experience.
The healthcare industry is also using technological advancements to increase efficiency and accuracy. For example, telemedicine allows practitioners to diagnose and treat patients remotely. This allows patients to avoid costly trips to the hospital and save time.
Likewise, hospitals now offer streamlined communication with medical staff via instant messaging interfaces. This is an improvement over the old system of pagers and walkie-talkies, which can easily be misheard or misunderstood. In addition, pharmacogenomics technology is helping doctors tailor medication to each patient’s genetic makeup. This is expected to save the healthcare industry billions by reducing side effects and wrong prescriptions.