Innovations are meant to make our lives better. From time to time, some of them change the lives of humans and other species considerably. Here are 5 breakthroughs in the world of biotechnology:
- The artificial kidney
Kidney diseases and disorders affect over 15% of the American populace. Dialysis requires 3 sessions every week. This is no longer the case as Xcorporeal, a company based in Los Angeles developed a machine that can clean the blood 24/7. It is more of an artificial kidney. It is operated by batteries, is waterproof and lightweight, weighing less than 5 pounds. It is automated. You can even travel while using this artificial kidney. You however need approval from your doctor.
- Walk Simulator
Virtual reality is a pivotal part of biotechnology in the present. A program developed by the University of Portsmouth aims at helping stroke patients to recover more quickly. They have created a virtual-reality rehabilitation program which involves walking on a treadmill. As the patients keep walking, they see moving images which make their brains think that they are actually walking slower than they are. Consequently, the patients are able to walk faster and further. They also experience less pain.
- Cancer immunotherapy
The future of biotechnology entails coming up with ways to boost the immune system so as to destroy cancer cells. There is ongoing research for skin and lung cancer especially in their last stages. A start up in Cambridge which was centered on this field was bought by Novartis AG, a Swiss drug maker. One of the ways to go about this is by creating antibodies that target the cancer antigen. They will then copy the antibody in the lab. These are referred to as monoclonal antibodies.
- Genetic coding
The 21st century is driven by programming and coding in technology. One of the most interesting facts about biotechnology is that we can use a concept that is applicable to machines in a human body, to alleviate lives. Malfunctioning or mutating genes cause various health problems. This has result in research to silence the genes, edit them or do gene therapy. This process entails rewriting the biological code allowing the genes to work normally. Steps have already been made in this area of research. Scientists know now how to deliver a corrected gene to the specific place in the body. This is a crucial part of gene therapy. This research is based on the fact that we can cure diseases with a single treatment.
- Phonetic speech engine
This is a device designed to help people who have lost the ability to talk. It uses electrodes to detect neuronal signals as they travel from the patient’s brain to their vocal cords. All that the patient needs to do is imagine and slowly sound out words. The wireless device then transmits the impulses to a cellphone or computer, producing speech. Ambient Corporation worked together with Texas instruments to gift the world with this great innovation in the biotechnology industry.
These innovations in biotechnology do alleviate human suffering.