Technological Advances in the Medical Field, Human Health and Aging

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1 1 EGN 1033 Technology Humans and Society Technological Advances in the Medical Field, Human Health and Aging Tatiana Fuentes Daniel Garcia Beatriz Varela Florida International University West Flagler Street Miami, Florida Summer 2005

2 2 Table of Contents Abstract Tatiana Fuentes, Daniel Garcia, Beatrice Varela Technological advances in the medical field Tatiana Fuentes Human health and Aging Daniel Garcia Beatrice Varela References

3 3 Abstract: Due to the new technology that has been developed in the past decades we have been able to identify cures for diseases that have plagued us over the years. Thanks to the emerging fields of genetic engineering and robotics great strides have been made which have improved the quality of life drastically. Technology has also affected surgical methods and hospital protocol such as increased communication between different hospitals.

4 4 With the advancement of technology, the possibilities for improvement on health for humans are endless. In a world increasing in population and where diseases continue to spreading throughout parts of the world there are different areas of science being used, in order to find cures for diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. The technological progress in the fields of molecular biology, biomedical engineering and biomedical technology are proceeding faster than most people realize. It is most apparent in biotechnology. There are many benefits in investing time, money and research in new technology because technology is the future and will ultimately save our lives. These different fields of study are combining applications of science, engineering, mechanics, life sciences and the study of biology that deals with structure, function and formation of molecules essential to life. The combination of technology and medicine has made for a large medical breakthrough in the present and will carry on in the future. Technology not only is aiding us today but it is also what helped us reach our potential in research. Some examples of current procedures being performed and researched are gene/protein transfer, artificial tissues/organs, tissue regeneration, birth control and fertilization, laser surgery and cord blood (stem cells). Computers were the most important development of the 20 th century because it allowed for the use of robotics to be introduced into the medical field. This is the largest way that technology is impacting us because these machines enable us to perform different operations faster, more precise, and in more detail and leaving less room for error.

5 5 Computers have completely changed the way hospitals are operated by improving efficiency and using high-tech robotic machines that allow for robotically operated surgeries with the supervision of highly trained practitioners. Although these machines range in the thousands, the benefits outweigh the negatives providing precise incisions, speedy recovery, decreased scarring and decreased pain for the patient throughout post surgery. These machines will also replace an estimated 50% of employees currently in hospitals (estespark.org). It is impossible for doctors to remember so much information; therefore, computers will be able to assist doctors in retrieving and storing all medical data possible to decrease malpractice. Computers also enabled hospitals to store medical files and keep them in a system to allow for an organized infrastructure and have immediate access. In February 1997 was one the largest medical accomplishments to guide the future of medical advances was achieved. With the use of genetic engineering and biotechnology, the Roslin Institute and PPL Therapeutics revealed the cloning of a lamb named Dolly from the DNA of an adult sheep (Raven and Hickman 280). The same scientist who cloned dolly announced that they have found a way to make cows and sheep produce milk containing the key proteins and antibodies of human blood. They expect to use this breakthrough to produce blood products for surgery and transfusion. Studies in the field of stem cells have been able to produce heart valves, heart muscles, blood vessels, and joints. The same scientists who take part on stem cell research have announced that they may be able to grow a complete heart. These studies and achievement have been made possible with the advancement in biotechnology giving options to patients with heart disease.

6 6 Furthermore, recent experiments in the field of genetics have yielded rice plants that produce human proteins. As a result, many new agricultural products will be developed to enhance health and treat diseases. By using biotechnology, scientists have bred a transgenic tomato with four times the normal levels of beta-carotene DNA vaccines are in the horizon that are more effective against a broader spectrum of pathogens. In helping our immune system, the Weisman Institute reported finding a gene called NIK that removes a molecular break that keeps the immune response in check (Raven and Hickman 275). They believe the discovery will lead to drugs to boost or lower the immune system. This technology is especially important in limb and organ transplant because the enemy is the body s own defense system. Advancement in image technology enables physicians to examine functionality of organs without surgery. Imaging advances combined with new miniaturized devices have expanded the opportunities for replacing traditional surgeries with minimally invasive surgery techniques. 3-D imaging has added substantial value to routine CT and MR examinations, moving medical imaging beyond its anatomic roots into a future that includes physiology and biochemistry. This technology is apparent with the use of the 3- d imaging by neurosurgeons to locate a cerebral aneurysm and determine which vessels are involved, something impossible only a few decades ago (Raven and Hickman 289). Such technological advancements will aid in the development of new medicine by providing more effective treatments such as immunotherapy based methods to aid the body s own immune system rather than drugs. DNA vaccines will be developed that are far superior to traditional vaccines and will be proved to be more effective against more pathogens (Raven and Hickman 385). Inexpensive hand-held biosensors will eliminate

7 7 the need for large laboratories transporting samples within facilities and sending samples out for testing because this machine will be able to analyze and diagnose small samples of blood within minutes. Gene or DNA chips for analyzing distinctive patters of genes active in different diseases will become available. But perhaps one of the most impressive and courageous new developments which will have tremendous ethical implications is the idea of placing a chip inside a newborn s body. This chip will have a social security number and a universal medical number that will be able to be scanned and give access to your personal medical records in the event that and emergency is occurring. The technology is reversing the world we live in today to a bright future in medicine with these new innovative developments. Attributed to the advancement in medicine, people today over 85 make up the fastest growing group in the U.S., and centenarians are the fastest world wide (Don and Grace 257). The decreasing mortality rate is attributed to improved public health, wider distribution of health information through the media, and medical advances in the development of antibiotics and vaccines to combat previously terminal illness. In addition, researchers are continuing to work on finding genetic keys to slowing or reversing the aging process. The great achievements of modern technology over the last few decades have advanced medicine to cure the sick and stop potential epidemics. Technology will be the strongest force that will continue to shape the state of medicine, not only in the U.S. but in the world.

8 8 References Aging Workforce and Accessible Technology. 1 June Microsoft Corporation. 5 June 2005 < Don, Baucum and Grace J. Craig Human Development, 9th Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. Prentice Hall. Kaiser, Leland R. Impact of High Technology On Health Care. Estates Park Institute. 4 June 2005 < Neil A. Campbell Biology 3rd Edition. Redwood City, California. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc. O'Neil, Stephen J. Medical Devicelink Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry. 4 June 2005 < Raven, Peter and Hickman, Cleveland Jr Biology, 7th Edition. Boston, Massachusetts. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Scientific American. 13 May Scientific American, Inc. 5 June 2005 <

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