Futuristic Predictions: Personalized Medicine

Personalized medicine by 2020 and other futuristic healthcare predictions 


Organ printing (2016)

Whether you call it organ printing, bio-printing, bio-manufacturing or computer-aided tissue engineering, it sounds a lot easier than it actually is.

Researchers have been using inkjet printers filled with cells instead of ink to manufacture organs that can be transplanted into humans. Dr. Anthony Atala, the director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, gave a fascinating TED talk last year in which he showed the audience a kidney that had been printed that day (but with a warning that it was an early, experimental prototype years away from functional and clinical use).

As Atala says, there are still many challenges to overcome before printing organs becomes standard practice, so the 2016 tag is pretty optimistic.

“In the future — maybe 50 years from now — we will be able to make very complex organs and bones, and very complex tissues,” Dr. Vladimir Mironov, researcher and associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, said in an interview with ABC News last year.

Synthetic blood (2018)

A molecule that can transfer oxygen throughout the body has been in high demand, especially in trauma and military settings, where blood is in short supply or isn’t readily available. The Department of Defense, for one, has doled out millions of dollars in grants for development efforts.

But it’s been a troublesome process. Safety concerns have kept companies including Northfield Laboratories and Biopure from winning U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval (and causing them to shut down). Researchers have trekked on, though. Numerous other companies including OPK Biotech and Arteriocyte are working on substitute blood products, and researchers are still coming up with new approaches.

A research team at Edinburgh University thinks its artificial red blood cells could be ready for clinical trials within the next two years, but that’s intended to be used only to hold patients over until real blood can be used, according to Wired.

Personalized medicine (2020)

Providing the right drug to the right patient at the right time. This one might not seem so far-fetched given that we’ve already reduced the cost of sequencing the human genome to about $1,000, seen FDA approvals of a few personalized medicines and companion diagnostic tests, and had many companies form (and raise serious cash) around the idea of personalized medicine.

But such a paradigm shift takes time and affects not only researchers, doctors and patients but also insurers and government regulators. As we continue to see researchers overcome the clinical barriers to personalized medicine, identify more biomarkers and develop more tests and therapeutics, issues with accuracy, affordability and policy will come into play.

Stem cell treatments (2026)

From blindness to cancer to lung disease to heart failure, stem cells are being applied in hundreds of clinical trials across the world. Last year, the FDA hit a big milestone when it approved HEMACORD, the first umbilical cord product for use in stem cell transplants.

In a nutshell, “extensive use of stem cells as therapy is still in its infancy,” wrote Dr. Stephen Schimpff, an author and professor of medicine and public policy, in a recent series of posts about the state of stem cells in medical research. See that series here: 1, 2 (the third installment is yet to be published).

Other interesting predictions

  • Smart drugs that improve mental functions by 2019
  • Gene therapy by 2030
  • Hybrid-assisted limbs that are embedded in the wearer’s body by 2032
  • Drugs that reverse or slow down aging by 2038

7 predictions for the future of health care technology

1. We will see a democratization of medical knowledge

For thousands of years, the science and art of medicine has been passed down from generation to generation under an apprenticeship model (it’s called “a practice” after all). Today, we have an opportunity to leverage technology to make doctors’ wisdom accessible to all. To date, we’ve published entire encyclopedias of medical knowledge, but they remain largely impenetrable by the mass audience. What’s missing is useful, user-friendly information that guides healthy behavior.

The technology already exists for health information to be published, catalogued, and searched by anybody online. As this trend spreads, this democratization of medical knowledge will offer clinicians worldwide a chance to learn from each other and improve the quality of care. What’s more, platforms that unlock the crowd-sourced wisdom of the medical community will offer patients immediate access to doctors’ guidance.

2. A transparent meritocracy amongst doctors

Patients typically choose their doctor by either word-of-mouth referral, or online consumer reviews of a doctor’s bedside manner, waiting room decor, or office staff’s disposition — not by the quality of care they provide.  That’s because most consumers aren’t qualified to assess how a doctor’s care affects health outcomes.

But imagine a world where doctors rate each other on the characteristic that matters most: competence. Taken further, imagine if consumers had access to a single score that captured a doctor’s professional reputation as determined by other doctors — a score that combines meaningful indicators such as the impact of their clinical research and academic publications, the number of patients referred to them, and the caliber of their medical training.

A system with this kind of transparency will reward doctors who actually deserve esteem from peers and patients, not just those with access to big marketing budgets, large employers, degrees from elite schools, or extensive social networks.

3. Finally — consolidated patient information!

Despite the increasing prevalence of electronic health records, patient information is stuck in the days of the Wild West. Information is siloed in non-interoperable data repositories, from EMRs to health devices, managed by different parties, and stored in various formats.

While we have more, richer data about each patient today than in past decades, doctors can’t effectively use these data until they are consolidated into a standardized, usable data stream. Favorable regulatory forces are pushing for standards (like the “Blue Button”) that make health information easily retrievable for patients and with increasingly empowered and savvy healthcare consumers. It’s only a matter of time before a platform emerges that can aggregate and safely store patient information in one place.

This kind of platform will, in turn, facilitate the integration of new technologies into healthcare. In addition to prescribing medications, for example, doctors will prescribe apps to capture health data or foster behavior change. Such practice will ultimately become a practical and seamless part of administering care.

4. Tech will catalyze drastic system-wide cost savings and efficiencies

When 30 to 40 million Americans enter the healthcare system in 2014 under Obamacare, our current system will experience enormous demand shock. Without structured change, the influx of previously uninsured patients will yield a shortage of doctors and will strain doctors’ time and resources, particularly among primary care physicians.

To cope, we will need an efficient system to triage health queries and manage patients based on urgency, severity, and available capacity. Furthermore, technology must enable doctors to care for larger patient populations more quickly and without compromising quality of care. Smart dashboards, alerts, reports, automated follow-ups, synchronous and asynchronous communication, and data sharing all will become part of a doctor’s “command center” that helps him or her monitor the health of thousands of patients simultaneously.

Innovation can expand the “production possibilities frontier” for any capital- and labor-constrained market. The potential impact of technology is immense. For example, of the $1.8 trillion spent annually on healthcare in the U.S., roughly $500 billion is spent on doctor-patient visits alone. Roughly 25 percent of these visits are purely informational (no procedures are performed, and no prescriptions are written). If technology can efficiently serve patients seeking such visits, annual healthcare costs could immediately and dramatically drop by $125 billion.

5. Our medical knowledge will advance at record speeds

Medicine will benefit from the wisdom of crowds. With transparent, large-scale knowledge sharing across doctors and patients, medical experts will collaborate to refine treatment regimens, discover new approaches to old problems, and share feedback on unexpected outcomes at a pace previously unimaginable.

By looking at trends in patients’ health questions and concerns in real time (both before and after a doctor visit), the CDC and other health organizations will learn about geographic outbreaks before patients make their way to ERs and waiting rooms. Conceivably, predictive analytical frameworks could detect outbreaks before they happen. Advanced algorithms will also detect correlations between certain medications and unexpected side effects based on patient reports within a particular demographic — correlations that might never be discovered during traditional clinical trials. The possibilities of “big data” are limitless and exciting.

6. Doctors will be trained to bring “care” back into “health care”

The average doctor-patient encounter in the U.S. lasts seven minutes (largely a function of reimbursements being tied to the number of patients seen). As a result, doctors are hard-pressed to find time to build meaningful relationships with their patients.

Not surprisingly, patients often complain about their doctors’ bedside manner. Technology can actually help foster a stronger culture of care in a fast-paced world – when visits are more efficient, doctors have more time to hold a hand, share a smile, alleviate anxiety, and talk with each patient. We’re already seeing medical schools adapt curricula to emphasize making patients feel better not just physically, but also emotionally. Technology will accelerate this trend by providing doctors ongoing access to peer feedback about their medical knowledge and patient feedback about their bedside manner. The result? Making patients healthier and happier.

7. We will see unprecedented market caps

We’re living in an era when many promising ventures will create new jobs, markets, and market values that surpass those of today’s tech companies.  Think about how massive existing health care companies have already grown in terms of brick and mortar facilities, in-person services, and archaic IT systems.

Yet some of the world’s leading technology companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple have already transformed traditional markets (think newspapers, books, and music) into lucrative technology-based markets with lower costs for consumers. Health tech companies can similarly disrupt the multi-trillion dollar health care market — except, in healthcare, the lifetime value of customers is exponentially larger than any other tech industry. This presents a monetization potential never before seen in the business model of tech companies.

The opportunities at the intersection of health and technology will enable humanity to create health and wealth on a global scale — seizing huge business opportunities while generating tremendous positive social impact for everyone, everywhere.

Health is ripe for technological disruption and worthy of the world’s best resources. This industry beckons the brightest engineers, designers, doctors, legislators, and business mavericks to band together and make these predictions a reality. Join the cause!



Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs for 2014


1. A New Treatment for Blood Cancers

Newly-developed drugs called “B-cell receptor pathway inhibitors” have been  highly effective in treating low-grade B-cell lymphomas and leukemias in clinical trials. A 2013 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) showed an overall response rate of 71 percent for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who were treated with the new drugs. These drugs kill malignant B cells while having little effect on healthy cells, thus producing fewer side effects than chemotherapy and allowing the patient to remain healthier during treatment.

Crucial Cancer Precautions

2. A Novel Biomarker for Heart Disease

When assessing a patient’s risk for heart disease, physicians test for certain biomarkers—such as cholesterol levels—that may foretell the potentially lethal health condition.

Scientists have now discovered what may be an important new biomarker, called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which could be a useful screening tool for people who don’t have traditional risk factors. TMAO is a byproduct of intestinal bacteria, and a study in NEJM reported this year that those with the highest levels of TMAO had double the risk of cardiovascular events. This research indicates that the microbes that live in our digestive tracts may be able to give us important clues about the risk of stroke and heart attack. Experts suggest that doctors may soon be able to personalize diets for their patients to best prevent heart disease based on levels of TMAO.

3. Computer-Assisted Sedation Without an Anesthesiologist

Colonoscopies are the most expensive screening test that Americans receive, and costs are increased when anesthesia services are provided. The solution may be a new computer-assisted personalized sedation device, which is expected to be introduced on a limited basis in 2014. The device , which administers the drug propofol, can be monitored by a non-anesthesia professional during colonoscopies, among other procedures. It’s been estimated that eliminating anesthesiologist services could cut costs by over $1 billion a year.

4. Relaxin for Acute Heart Failure

More than 55,000 people die of heart failure in the U.S. each year, while over 500,000 new cases are diagnosed. Serelaxin—a synthetic version of a natural human hormone—may be the first breakthrough in two decades in the treatment of this debilitating condition. The drug, a type of vasodilator, helps during episodes of acute heart failure by improving blood flow throughout the body. It may also reduce inflammation, which could otherwise cause damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Best Tips For a Healthier Heart

5. Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

To this point, treating Clostridium difficile, or C. diff., has focused on one of two antibiotics—vancomycin or metronidazole. But gastroenterologists are now using human stool transplants in patients who do not respond to traditional drug therapy. The process involves the transfer of healthy fecal matter into a sick person’s colon, which restores bacterial balance. Reportedly, some patients who suffered through multiple episodes of C.diff were cured of their symptoms within 24 hours thanks to the bacteriotherapy.

6. Decision Support System for Anesthesia

Most of the 51 million surgical procedures performed annually in hospitals across the U.S. are not possible without anesthesia. In an effort to meet the demands and improve outcomes, a new electronic anesthesia management system has been developed which creates, in real time, a full anesthesia record of events, drugs, and procedures. The system is meant to help ensure anesthesia best practices are followed, in turn reducing the risk of serious errors.

7. New Era in Hepatitis C Treatment

Though treatment for hepatitis C has greatly improved since the 1990s, many patients endure regimens that are both lengthy (up to 48 weeks) and require difficult-to-tolerate drugs. A new drug, Sofosbuvir, might be the answer. The drug is the first all-oral treatment for hepatitis C, and it’s in the latter stages of becoming FDA approved. It has been shown to improve treatment response rates to 90% or higher, while producing fewer side effects.

8. Responsive Neurostimulator for Intractable Epilepsy

Roughly 30 percent of Americans with epilepsy are unable to bring their seizures under control with medication or other treatments. And while surgery for epilepsy is possible, it carries risks and is often unhelpful. This year, a new treatment option earned the unanimous support of an FDA neurological device advisory panel. It’s a surgically-implanted neurological device that can considerably reduce the occurrence of epileptic seizures. The device, implanted in the skin, records electrocorticographic (ECog) patterns via electrodes that are placed in the patient’s brain. When it detects an oncoming seizure, short electrical pulses are delivered which can stop the impending seizure.

9. Genomic-Based Tests For Cancerous Tumors

Aggressive treatments for cancerous tumors are often pursued (by both doctors and patients) even when they are not required, using a “just in case” approach. But now, genomic-based tests can help avoid unnecessary (and unpleasant) treatments like chemotherapy and radiation when they are not warranted. Several genomic-based tests are now available that can analyze the genes in a patient’s tumor and predict the aggressiveness of the cancer, making treatment decisions easier.

10. Bionic Eyes For Severe Eye Disease

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a group of inherited eye diseases that affects more than 100,000 Americans and often results in legal blindness by the age of 40. Backed by two decades of development and testing, and more than $200 million in funding, there may now be a treatment for RP. It’s a new FDA-approved technology that consists of a surgically-implanted 60-electrode retinal prosthesis which decodes wireless transmissions from a pair of glasses equipped with a video camera. A video processing unit must also be worn or carried. The retinal implant, or “bionic eyes,” don’t completely restore vision; however, patients can sense light and dark, movement, and the location of people and objects.



Top 10 Innovations in Health in 2013



1. Bee Venom Nanoparticles Attack HIV

Like the stingers from a thousand angry bees, a toxin isolated from bee venom is able to poke holes in the protective coating of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. When attached to nanoparticles with a special bumper, the toxin melittin can kill the virus, while leaving healthy human cells intact. More work is needed, but the Washington University researchers say a vaginal cream with the bee venom nanoparticles could serve as a low-cost method of blocking infection.

“The implications are phenomenal—from preventing the spread of HIV where there’s high rates of infection to treating existing infections,” said Tracy Stickler, Healthline’s editorial director.

2. HIV Virus Used to Treat Genetic Disorders in Children

Researchers from Italy put HIV’s highly effective infection mechanism to good use in treating children with genetic disorders. After collecting stem cells from the children’s bone marrow, researchers used HIV—stripped of its harmful genetic information—to squirrel a corrected copy of a defective gene into the children’s cells. The modified cells were then re-injected into the young patients.

“Instead of trying to stamp out HIV, the researchers found a way to use it as a cure. So far they’ve successfully—and safely—treated six children with life-threatening conditions,” said Aaron Moncivaiz, a production editor at Healthline

3. Fast, Cheap Paper Test Detects Pancreatic Cancer

A rapid and inexpensive test, created last year by then-15-year-old Jack Andraka, could one day enable earlier detection of pancreatic cancer. The test, which is still under development, uses carbon nanotubes laced with an antibody that reacts to a protein—mesothelin—found in the blood of people with pancreatic cancer.

Embedding the antibody in nanotubes allowed Andraka to create a paper sensor strip that costs only three cents, but is 90 percent accurate.


4. Optogenetics Activates Brain Cells with Light

One of the hottest techniques in science this year, optogenetics lets researchers target specific areas of the brain more closely than ever before. Inserting a light-activated gene into a specific type of neuron in the brain allows scientists to turn those cells on—or off—with the flick of a light switch.

“Optogenetics is hot right now, even though a lot of people aren’t 100 percent sure what it’s good for yet. This breakthrough is shining a new light on the mysteries of the brain and will surely lead to exciting treatment innovations,” said Charles Purdy, Healthline’s managing editor of products.

5. Detecting Lung Cancer with Just a Cough

Detecting lung cancer earlier could be as easy as coughing at the doctor’s office, thanks to an automated 3D cell imaging system. The Cell-CT platform uses more than 800 physical characteristics to identify lung cancer cells collected from sputum samples. In early testing, the system identified more than nine in 10 cases of lung cancer, with virtually no false positive results.

Charles Purdy also nominated this innovation.



6. Vaccinations Without Needles Are on the Horizon

With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, researchers at King’s College London have developed a needle-free way to deliver vaccine directly into the skin. The technology consists of a disc-shaped microneedle array—very tiny projections made of sugar mixed with the vaccine. When the disc is pressed against the skin, the microneedles dissolve to deliver the vaccine.

“It seems like it may revolutionize bringing vaccine to masses of people who suffer from diseases that are preventable, but current methods don’t seem to reach,” said Justin Beaver, a production assistant at Healthline. “Also, for people who continuously need to blood test or inject for conditions like diabetes, this could also make day-to-day life a lot easier.”



7. Rapid Blood Test Parses Viral and Bacterial Infections

Patients with cold- and flu-like symptoms may never wonder again if their illness is viral or bacterial, thanks to a rapid and highly accurate blood test developed by researchers at Duke University. With results available in 12 hours, the test uses a genetic fingerprint that the body expresses when it’s sick to identify the culprit. Researchers hope to help doctors focus their treatment even more by paring down the turnaround time to as little as one hour.

“The new test can quickly determine if an illness is caused by a virus or bacteria, which could prevent the over-prescription of antibiotics and even potentially detect global pandemics,” Moncivaiz said.

8. Miniaturized Blood Tests Arrive in Silicon Valley

Though much of its work is shrouded in secrecy, Palo Alto company Theranos is still stirring up the consumer health testing market. The company’s latest device opens the door to miniaturized technology—like microneedles and nanotubes—which allow medical tests to be run using only a few drops of blood. Theranos currently operates its own wellness centers and is partnering with Walgreens pharmacy to expand nationwide.

“There’s very little written about Theranos, but it will have very far-reaching positive implications,” said David Kopp, Healthline’s executive vice president and general manager for media.


9. Detect Bad Breath with Your Smartphone

“Siri, how does my breath smell?” may be the words you hear before your next party. A San Francisco startup has developed a computer chip that works with tiny sensors to digitize the sense of smell and taste. While detecting bad breath is socially advantageous, the company sees other applications for its technology, such as detecting low blood sugar and high blood alcohol with just an exhale.

Tracy Rosecrans, Healthline’s director of marketing, nominated this innovation.

10. Doctors Fight Infections with Stool Transplants

Also known as a human stool transplant, fecal microbiota transplantation is providing doctors with a new tool to treat aggressive Clostridium difficile infections. The method builds on growing research that shows how important the microorganisms living on and inside the body are for human health.

While many people feel squeamish at the thought of receiving a stool transplant, colonizing your intestines with a dose of healthy bacteria holds promise as a treatment for other inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Shawn Radcliffe, a Healthline contributor, nominated this innovation.



Intro By Silvia Binder: Innovations in Health

I love many of the innovations in the field of health published in the media in 2013. I have collected a few of the articles and share my thoughts on them with you, in this report. The use of nano technology in medical treatment makes logical sense, and will revolutionize the way pharmacology is viewed and used today. Nano particles consisting of a natural element such as bee venom is wholesome. What will need to be studied in the future is charging these nano particles magnetically to boost the effect of their delivery into cells, tissue, and organs. Humans are electromagnetic beings and treating health disorders with a combination of chemistry and physics should offer the most complete treatment solution. 

An excellent consequence of many of these innovations is the lowering or elimination of unwanted harmful side effects.

Some of the new thought leaders responsible for creating new innovations are brave enough to dare to turn the perspective on disease 180 degrees.  Right up my alley. They dare to take what is considered harmful and use it in a meaningful way. With more research and proof of its efficacy, these up-side-down solutions may prove an incredible treatment potential to stimulate cellular healing, even impacting the DNA.

While you will find a few novel ideas to diagnose diseases such as cancer, the thought of how much fear is being created doesn’t sit well with me. Even worse is the feeling I’m getting when these easier diagnostic approaches will potentially increase physician’s prescribed standard care of cancer treatment. These diagnostic approaches offer only the perspective of physiology and chemistry while not giving consideration to the psyche or soul. Lots of work has been done to help patients therapeutically in the complimentary field of medicine. I’d welcome new thought leaders who dare to step forward to bring awareness to medical professionals and patients alike of other easily available therapeutic ways, which are less invasive while addressing the entire human being.

Cool and certainly useful is the idea with the alcohol test with your cell phone. 

They say interesting is a good word to describe something you may not have words for. So, I say, stool transplants sounds interesting, primarily for patients with severe infections to offer immediate necessary gut bacteria. I do prefer giving the body time as part of the healing equation and offering probiotics taken in natural form such as kefir, sauerkraut juice, or “Brottrunk” (non-alcoholic fermented “bread drink”).  

Going on to the Predictions for 2014, I am not fond of the new biomarker for heart disease since the old biomarker “cholesterol” still proves to be highly questionable if not criminal – read more about this topic in the book “The Cholesterol Myth”.

I am excited about the FDA approved stimulation implant device helping patients suffering from seizures. This, in my opinion, will better meet the person’s overactive electrical output need than any chemical intervention. The seizure problem is finally met with a treatment stimulation speaking the same language.  I can confirm this having witnessed myself the use of ONDAMED on patients with seizure disorders.

Looking to the 2020 predictions, I agree with the excitement on Stem Cell Treatments which is used in many countries around the globe with much success already. Health department officials have to witness the rapid response to this ancient form of self-stimulation treatment, which can possibly be compared to autohaemotherapy.

I also can absolutely connect with the Personalized Medicine approach. Good news is that we don’t have to wait until 2020. It’s already here. It has been here for 20 years. Let us look into the world of electromagnetics, which is what all stuff on earth and in the universe is made of. Chemistry is good, but limited. Providing the right drug to the right patient at the right time is here NOW. Not in form of a chemical drug, but in form of non-invasive focused field stimulation in combination with Biofeedback – the patient’s body’s wisdom directs the practitioner to “what” and “where” the stimulation is needed at the “time” of the treatment with no known side effects for 20 years – ONDAMED.