As each of us attempts to manage our personal and professional challenges during the current COVID-19 crisis, we can also take a moment to look into the future and marvel at medical breakthroughs that are on the horizon.
I purposely chose not to focus on the COVID-19 crisis in this blog and the multitude of issues involved for one general reason. There are so many news articles, government projections, speculations, practical advice and misinformation that I decided to step away from that mental assault for a moment.
Although I have often blogged about the surge in antibiotic-resistant super bugs and about possible apocalyptic micro-organisms, there are meaningful research projects going on that focuses on the betterment of life post-COVID-19.
Here are a couple of cutting-edge research endeavors that include some of my favorite technology that I believe will define human existence in the future.
Recently, this company initiated work on technology that reconfigures standard materials at the molecular level to produce unique substances never before envisioned. This company developed a rubbery nanomaterial that seamlessly integrates with the human body.
Originally, researchers set out to create a bone replacement material; but, by simply manipulating just the right carbon mix at the molecular level, a rubbery texture that could replace cartilage resulted. Further molecular manipulations produced a soft, flexible and extremely elastic material that could one day replace human tissue.
The implications of these discoveries are enormous for replacing cartilage that breaks down in aging joints, tissue regeneration from serious burns, and a whole host of other beneficial human uses. This technology could be the game-changer in trauma-related reconstructive surgeries.
3-D Printer Technology:
One recent and immediate use is that a hospital in Italy is using 3-D printer technology to print replacement parts for broken intensive care unit equipment. Specifically, the current need is for replacement of ventilator valves much sooner than standard suppliers could replace them. This became an unexpected life-saving idea never before envisioned and could be useful going forward to 3-D print needed medical devices to fulfil immediate patient needs.
On a more long-term 3-D printing research project, scientists in Israel have been the first to successfully 3-D print a small heart using lab-grown living tissue. The printed tissue included blood vessels, collagen and biological heart tissue.
Although 3-D printed artificial organs and other artificial body replacement parts have been used in medicine, this technology is the first to use biologically-compatible living tissue.
This research is still in its infancy and the process has only produced a rodent-sized heart at this point, but this technical advance could one day become the medical standard for organ replacement if this research continues as expected.
At this time of personal and professional upheaval with the worldwide viral pandemic, it’s comforting to know that there is research out there that looks beyond this crisis to better times and an optimistic medical future.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!
While shuttered at home and practicing social distancing, if you need some interesting reads, check out my books on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/jamesjmurray