The 2010s are coming to an end, and looking back there have been some pretty amazing advances and innovations in health and science.
Advances in prosthetic limbs
Prosthetic limbs have been around since ancient times. In Egypt, a prosthetic wooden toe was found on a mummy dating back 3,000 years. By the Dark Ages, inventors could incorporate hinges on prosthetic arms used by knights. In modern times, the field of prosthetics has turned to incorporating more technology into physical stand-ins for limbs. In the last several years, theres been a boom in advances that have led to the best and most useful prosthetics weve ever seen.
Reports from the early 2010s talked about the potential for new technology to allow people to control prosthetics with their minds and to receive sensory information from their devices. It may have been a reach in the early part of the decade, but now it is literally within grasp. There are new prosthetic hands being tested that give the user the ability to grab objects with their thoughts and even to sense the texture of what they are touching. New bionic hands allow the user to feel again by sending signals back to the brain about the things they are touching, like whether its hard or soft. Other research groups have been working on bionic arms that can move based on the users thoughts through a brain-computer interface. While these have demonstrated its possible to accomplish these goals in the lab, theres still more to be done before people can use these devices outside in the real world.
Many of these advanced prosthetics are still prototypes and may not reach the general population for a while. Luckily, cheaper 3D printers have made simple prosthetics more accessible. These are important because a prosthetic device can improve the quality of life for people. For example, this person has been printing prosthetic hands and arms for people in Africa after watching an online tutorial. New materials that go into 3D printers are cheaper than they used to be and are being used in prosthetics to provide a more affordable option for patients.
Although prosthetics have been around for ages in some form or another, they arent always used. One variable to consider is the social acceptance of having a prosthetic. Theres still a lot of stigma around disabilities and many people may reject prosthetics even if they are available. In 2012, an athlete with both feet amputated competed in the mens 400 meter race at the Olympics in London. There was some controversy over whether the runner with a prosthetic foot should be allowed to run in races with people who dont have prosthetics or if they should only be allowed in competitions specifically for people who have them. Prosthetics also need to be comfortable and usable in order to be successfully adopted. In one study, about 4.5 percent of people rejected prosthetics and 13.4 percent stopped using their prosthetics. As the new prosthetics that are more natural and intuitive to use come to market, hopefully more people will benefit, and the social barriers to acceptance will disappear.
The genome modification technique called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, aka CRISPR, was a culmination of a few decades of work by scientists, and major studies explaining the method were published in 2013. The version of it called CRISPR-associated protein 9 or CRIPSR-Cas9 is what most researchers are specifically using in most cases. It involves a regular gene editing mechanism that happens in bacteria. The bacteria can take sections of DNA from attacking viruses and essentially use that to remember the viruses if they return. When the virus is back, the bacteria can target the matching sections of DNA in the virus, cut it and disable the virus.
Though 2013 was only six years ago, as far as science goes, CRISPR has been moving at lightning speed towards practical applications. Using CRISPR to edit a gene sequence, researchers can now add, delete or modify DNA segments more quickly and accurately than ever before. Since the technique was developed, researchers have used CRISPR to target diseases caused by a single gene like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease.
Probably the most infamous use of CRISPR are the CRISPR babies. In late 2018, a Chinese researcher, He Jiankui, claimed to have used CRISPR to modify the genomes of two babies to include a mutated version of a gene that protects against HIV. This case was and is highly controversial for the ethical concerns with genetically modifying a human genome at the embryo level, or germline, meaning it can be passed down to future generations and has not been done before in humans. Recently, MIT Technology Review obtained excerpts from Hes research, and experts say that the report and data may be untrustworthy. This means it is still unclear if He and collaborators actually successfully modified the babies genomes. The scientific community overall condemns this way of using CRISPR to edit a human germline genome and has called for an international moratorium on it until a framework can be agreed on.The researcher has been sentenced to three years in prison in Shenzhen, China.
As fraught with controversy as the CRISPR babies may be, CRISPR technology still holds a lot of promise and can be used responsibly, supporters say. For example, researchers are using it to target cancer cells by taking a patients immune cells, modifying them using CRISPR and then infusing the patient with the modified cells. For blood diseases, a patient with sickle cell disease is reported to be responding well to a CRISPR treatment that has allowed her body to produce a crucial protein.
Another area that has boomed this decade partly because of CRISPR technology is stem cell therapy, which well get into in the next section.
Stem cell therapy
Technically, the only Federal Drug Administration (FDA)-approved stem cell therapies are blood-forming stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood. Blood-forming stem cells are used to treat patients with cancer after chemotherapy has depleted blood cells, as well as patients with blood disorders like leukemia whose bone marrow tissues are damaged. These types of treatments have been around for about 30 years, but in the 2010s weve seen potential for more uses of stem cells in health care.
The main idea behind stem cell therapy is that because the cells are pluripotent meaning they can become many other types of cells they can be introduced into parts of the body that are damaged and need new cells. On top of that, researchers can now extract some types of stem cells from a persons body, so no need for umbilical cords. This opens up the possibilities for highly personalized treatment where one person can be treated with stem cells from their own body.
Researchers are exploring how stem cells can be used to treat liver disease, cerebral palsy, stroke, brain injury and others. There are many ongoing research-backed clinical trials for stem cell therapy. A quick search for stem cell therapy on the governments clinical trial database turns up 5,638 results. And because of the work necessary to even get to the clinical trial stage, theres likely an order of magnitude more stem cell therapy studies in the pre-clinical trial stages.
Stem cell therapy is also being offered in for-profit clinics around the U.S. In these cases, the clinics are typically taking fat tissue from a patient, isolating the stem cells and then administering the stem cells back to the patient. In some cases, the treatments may lead to health complications, like blindness in a few extreme cases, and the FDA warns that such treatments are unapproved and potentially harmful. The FDA is ramping up regulation of stem cell clinics and earlier this year took a specific clinic in Florida to court.
Although there are many stem cell clinics offering unproven stem cell therapies, its not all hype. Granted that its difficult to pass the clinical trial stage to get FDA approval, stem cell research may lead to new treatments for several health conditions that could completely change the health care landscape.
You can follow Chia-Yi Hou on Twitter.
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The most important health innovations of the past decade - The Hill
- Blood and bone marrow stem cell donation - Mayo Clinic - October 16th, 2021
- Global Stem Cell and Primary Cell Culture Medium Market 2021 Trends and Leading Players Analysis 2027 Merck, STEMCELL Technologies, Irvinesci, Cell... - October 16th, 2021
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- Selma Blair Shares That Shes Now in Remission 3 Years After MS Diagnosis - Self - August 18th, 2021
- Third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to be offered to certain residents - Martins Ferry Times Leader - August 18th, 2021
- Friends, family continue Jocelyn's drive to increase stem cell donors - Chatham This Week - August 18th, 2021
- Calidi Biotherapeutics Announces Exclusive License Agreement with City of Hope and the University of Chicago for Novel Oncolytic Virotherapy... - August 18th, 2021
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- Eagle County begins offering third vaccine doses to the immunocompromised - Vail Daily News - August 18th, 2021
- CDC: Third Dose Of COVID-19 Vaccine Recommended For Moderately & Severely Immunocompromised Individuals Only - KSST - August 18th, 2021
- New CEO, check. $172M round, check. Wugen's off-the-shelf cell therapies are ready for takeoff - FierceBiotech - July 22nd, 2021
- Arbor Strengthens Focus on Therapeutics with Key Additions to Leadership Team - Yahoo Finance - July 22nd, 2021
- For Patients with HIV and Cancer, a Multidisciplinary Treatment Approach is Critical - Targeted Oncology - July 22nd, 2021
- Keeping the physical appointment was critical, the show of support appreciated by Renville County Commissioner - West Central Tribune - May 15th, 2021
- Appia Bio aims for a new kind of off-the-shelf CAR-T with $52M raise - FierceBiotech - May 15th, 2021
- Experimental treatments risk further medicalisation of menopause - The BMJ - May 15th, 2021
- Biopreservation Market Know the diverse technological advancements in the biopreservation - BioSpace - May 15th, 2021
- Reawakened immune cells attack cells tied to diseases of aging - STAT - STAT - May 15th, 2021
- Global Stem Cell Therapy Market Analysis and Forecast (2019-2024) The Courier - The Courier - May 3rd, 2021
- Cell Therapy Company Raises $160 Million to Advance iPSC-Derived Therapies to Clinic - BioSpace - March 8th, 2021
- Retracing the Lineage of Cancer Cells - Technology Networks - March 8th, 2021
- QC Kinetix (Myrtle Beach) Offers Stem Cells Therapy, An Alternative to Surgery For Pain Management in Myrtle Beach, SC - Press Release - Digital... - March 8th, 2021
- Caribou nets $115M to boost CRISPR tech, advance off-the-shelf cell therapies - FierceBiotech - March 8th, 2021
- QC Kinetix (San Antonio) Offers Non-Surgical Regeneration Therapy To Treat Aches, Pains, and Injuries In Individuals Around San Antonio - Press... - March 8th, 2021
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- #FillTheSeats to save lives this February with Canadian Blood Services - Sportsnet.ca - January 30th, 2021
- Vertex Announces FDA Clearance of Investigational New Drug (IND) Application for VX-880, a Novel Cell Therapy for the Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes... - January 30th, 2021
- ClearPoint Neuro, Inc. Announces Expansion of Pre-Clinical and Translational Development Team to Support Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Partners -... - January 30th, 2021
- Cell Therapy Market 2020 Industry Size, Share, Segmentation, Comprehensive Analysis and Forecast by 2025 KSU | The Sentinel Newspaper - KSU | The... - January 30th, 2021
- TScan Moves Toward the Clinic with $100 Million Series C Round - BioSpace - January 30th, 2021
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- Caladrius Biosciences Treats First Patient in the Phase 2b FREEDOM Trial of CLBS16 for the Treatment of Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction - Cath Lab... - January 30th, 2021
- From hacking the immune system at the Parker Institute to decoding and reprogramming human cells - leading clinical immunotherapies developer Ramy Ibr... - January 30th, 2021
- City Awards $38 Million in Infrastructure Grants for City Science Institutions - CityLand CityLand - CityLand - January 30th, 2021
- Mesoblast Limited: Is Stemcell Therapy Ready For Prime Time? - Sick Economics - January 22nd, 2021
- Caladrius Biosciences Treats First Patient in the Phase 2b FREEDOM Trial of CLBS16 for the Treatment of Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction | DNA RNA... - January 22nd, 2021
- Breakthrough motor neurone disease study finds way to reverse damage - The National - January 19th, 2021
- Orchard Therapeutics Announces 2021 Corporate Priorities Supporting the Build-out of its Commercial Business in Hematopoietic Stem Cell (HSC) Gene... - January 12th, 2021
- Cancer Stem Cell Therapy Market : Information, Figures And Analytical Insights 2020-2026 - LionLowdown - January 5th, 2021
- Paint it all Pink winner charity donation helps Elizabeth Wende Breast Care Fund - MPNnow.com - December 22nd, 2020
- Center for Regenerative Medicine - Mayo Clinic - December 17th, 2020
- Cancer Stem Cell Therapy Market Revenue, Global Forecast, Cost, Key Participants and Emerging Trends and Key Players-AVIVA BioSciences , AdnaGen - The... - December 12th, 2020
- Cancer Stem Cell Therapy Market Analysis With Key Players, Applications, Trends And Forecasts To 2026 - Cheshire Media - December 5th, 2020
- Short Redhead Reel Reviews for the week of Dec. 4 - ECM Publishers - December 5th, 2020
- Human sperm stem cells grown in lab, an early step toward infertility treatment - Jill Lopez - November 18th, 2020
- Global Stem Cell and Primary Cell Culture Medium Industry 2020 Market Research With Size, Growth, Manufacturers, Segments And 2026 Forecasts Research... - November 18th, 2020
- Updated: FDA gives Cellectis all clear after patient death halted off-the-shelf CAR-T trial - Endpoints News - November 18th, 2020
- FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics and Lonza Agree to Expand the Availability and Use of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Technology - BioSpace - November 16th, 2020
- Cleveland Clinic team draws a link between COVID-19 protection and the sleep aid melatonin - FierceBiotech - November 16th, 2020
- Global Cancer Stem Cell Therapy Market Outlook by Types, Applications, End Users and Opportunities to 2025 - TechnoWeekly - November 16th, 2020
- Orphan Drug Designation Granted for CSL Behring's Investigational Plasma-Derived Hemopexin Therapy for Sickle Cell Disease - PRNewswire - November 3rd, 2020
- What's On The Ballot? Here's A Look At California's 2020 Propositions - KPBS - November 3rd, 2020
- The Animal Stem Cell Therapy market to witness remarkable disruptions in the next decade - TechnoWeekly - October 28th, 2020
- Dr. Hill on Next Steps for Research Exploring CAR T-Cell Therapy in MCL - OncLive - October 28th, 2020
- Randomized Controlled Study Using Direct Injection of Remestemcel-L Into Inflamed Gut of Patients With Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis -... - October 24th, 2020
- Stem cells, repair cells, & growth factors: What is the latest? - The Times of India Blog - October 20th, 2020
- Cell Therapy Market Trend,COVID-19 Impact,Current Industry Figures With Demand By Countries And Future Growth - PRnews Leader - October 20th, 2020
- Global and United States Cancer Stem Cell Therapy Market Leading Players Expected to Witness the Highest Growth 2025 | AVIVA BioSciences, AdnaGen,... - October 20th, 2020
- Stem Cell and Primary Cell Culture Medium Market Share, By Product Analysis, Ap - News by aeresearch - October 20th, 2020
- Months after achieving unicorn status, Orca steers into the fast lane with an RMAT designation for cell therapy candidate - Endpoints News - October 15th, 2020
- EdiGene Gets $67 Million Infusion to Bring Gene Editing to the Clinic - BioSpace - October 15th, 2020
- CAR T-cell Therapies for the Treatment of Patients with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - OncoZine - October 15th, 2020
- Bone Therapeutics' allogeneic cell therapy product, ALLOB, shows 90% fusion rate at 24 months in Phase IIa study in lumbar spinal fusion -... - October 15th, 2020
- Biopharma Money on the Move: October 7-14 - BioSpace - October 15th, 2020
- Consensus paper: current state of first- and second-line therapy in advanced clear-cell renal cell carcinoma. - UroToday - October 8th, 2020
- Around Town: Life is a series of choices a look at California's ballot propositions - VVdailypress.com - October 8th, 2020
- League of Women Voters Releases Their Proposition recommendations - Valley Voice - October 8th, 2020
- Expansion Therapeutics Names Renato Skerlj, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and President - BioSpace - October 8th, 2020
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- How to Vote This November: A Progressive's Opinion Redheaded Blackbelt - Redheaded Blackbelt - October 1st, 2020
- Cancer Stem Cell Therapy Market Size is Thriving worldwide with Topmost Companies Like: Advanced Cell Diagnostics, Silicon Biosystems, Cancer Stem... - September 30th, 2020
- Cell Therapy Manufacturing Market to be Worth USD 8 billion by 2030, predicts Roots Analysis - The Daily Chronicle - September 25th, 2020
- Global Stem Cell and Primary Cell Culture Medium Market Research (2015-2026): In-depth Assessment of the Growth and other Aspects - Internet Shots - September 23rd, 2020
- Cellular Therapy Products Market 2020 2025 analysis examined in new C - News by aeresearch - September 23rd, 2020
- Those linked to stem cell board received more than $2.1 billion - Capitol Weekly - September 15th, 2020
- Takeda Expands Cell Therapy Efforts with New R&D Manufacturing Plant in Boston - BioSpace - September 15th, 2020
- Allow your body to heal on its own with the help of Stemcure Clinic - Lowvelder - September 15th, 2020
- The Animal Stem Cell Therapy market to Undergo positive Transformation between 2017 and 2025 - The Daily Chronicle - September 12th, 2020