Healthcare researchers are continually attempting to solve humankind’s most challenging medical mysteries. New studies and fields of research are launched to try new ways of approaching old problems and re-evaluating the effectiveness of our current treatments and drugs.
Regenerative medicine attempts to create treatments and drugs that mimic the body’s healing process to regenerate diseased and damaged cells. Regenerative medicine could help people overcome severe injuries, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and many other otherwise irreparable damages to the body’s cells. Regenerative medicine aims to heal and fully restore proper function at the molecular, cellular, and tissue level. Stem cell therapy is a rapidly growing field of research in regenerative medicine that holds tremendous potential for widespread success. Doctors can harvest stem cells from different areas of the patient’s body and inject stem cell clusters into targeted areas where cells are damaged. These stem cells then reprogram themselves and replace the damaged cells, healing the tissue and restoring function.
Cell therapy drugs, as with every other drug, start out in a research lab, going through a long trial and approval process. Check out the infographic below to see the full process of how your medicine is made!
Infographic provided by The Emmes Company, a vaccine trial facilitator
The COVID-19 pandemic saw vaccine development at an unprecedented rate. In the US, Operation Warp Speed funded the rapid development of COVID vaccines, two of which were mRNA vaccines. Before decoding DNA, vaccines were often created using attenuated versions of the virus to introduce the immune system to the disease without allowing it the strength to replicate in the body. In the 1990s, scientists began experimenting with messenger RNA, the strand of DNA that holds the blueprint for building proteins in the body. Now, scientists can use mRNA in vaccines to deliver protein blueprints to the individual’s immune system, capable of generating antibodies that fight the virus. Along with modern vaccine development methods came the need for large-scale manufacturing and distribution services. Groups like Avantor help labs collaborate by offering “efficiency in sample processing and management that allows clinical trial managers to reduce costs and increase the security of their research samples.” Medical equipment, aliquoting service, laboratory and distribution management, and many other essential services are necessary for the safe and reliable development and delivery of vaccines. Improved vaccine development and scalable and efficient manufacturing and distribution systems are necessary for preparing us against the next pandemic.
The digitalization of the healthcare industry has seen many benefits to the quality of care given today. Artificial intelligence programs assist scientists who deal with large quantities of data in recognizing trends and anomalies in their research. When developing DNA-based treatments and vaccines, scientists rely on AI to help them identify specific sequences rapidly. Chatbots can also use machine learning to assist with the administration of telehealth appointments and can even be used for diagnostics. Artificial intelligence was an essential tool during the pandemic to track and predict the spread of the disease, perform temperature checks on large crowds, and even identify infected individuals using facial recognition software. Further, internet-connected wearables allow people to take greater control of their health at home and offer doctors access to data that can improve individualized care plans. Some groups advocate for open-source access to voluntarily submitted wearable data to inform researchers worldwide. The data from these wearables could be beneficial for medical researchers and scientists.
These are just a few of the more significant innovations in healthcare that are changing and improving the way we design and deliver care. The healthcare industry will continue to digitize and improve its efficiencies for greater access to care and cutting-edge treatments.