One of the areas of research that really impresses me is the developments that have come about through greater understanding of stem cells, cell differentiation and the genome. I regularly read the tech section in the observer and although most of it is bewildering, there are usually items relating to health and improving health care.
So on Sunday 7th December there was a roundup of 20 brilliant ideas that could come into use in 2015. Some I’m not sure about – build your own tiny satellite -Why? won’t they all bump into each other? – but there were several that sound really really good.
Growing red blood cells in a lab. Researchers at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Heriot Watt Universities have used pluripotent stem cells to create red blood cells which could be used for transfusion and are working towards developing industrial scale production. The advantages are that they are O neg, so will suit everyone, clean, no infections and all new, so will last longer than donated blood. And of course they are not dependent on a donor.
Epibone, a company based at Columbia University have developed a way of growing bone to fit a patient’s needs, using their own stem cells. The bone is grown into the shape and size needed. As it is grown from the patient’s own DNA there will be no concerns over rejection. Epibone is a private company so there is no information on their website of how this is done, but it is a very useful development.
Wearable tech. I’ve mentioned this before, a wristband new tech wristbands such as jawbone which will pick up heart rates , sun exposure, exercise taken calories counted in and used etc. no doubt they will soon be able to monitor blood glucose levels and other chemical markers. They can connect with your GP or hospital if you need monitoring for a specific condition, or they can collect big data for statistical research. There are concerns over the use of them to “spy” on wearers, which leads to the question – Would you want your 90 year old granny to wear one? Well I would. They can only report behaviour, conscious or unconscious, they can’t enforce it. I would expect the advantages to outweigh the disadvantages.