January 14, 2020

Novel scientific breakthroughs emerge to enhance healthcare

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By Sola Ogundipe

THE worlds of medicine and science fiction are merging faster than you can blink. These days nothing is incomprehensible in medicine as far as science is concerned. Here are some novel scientific breakthroughs that are revolutionising medicine.

Regrowing damaged body parts In the future, stem-cell technology might be able to help cartilage and other parts of the body to regrow.

Regenerative medicine is promoting the move towards ‘cells as pills’. It refers to the branch of medicine that develops methods to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues.

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Regenerative medicine” has much wider application, making it “a game-changing area of medicine with the potential to fully heal damaged tissues and organs.

The technology could help repair hearts damaged by heart attack and could mean body tissues or organs for transplant can be grown in laboratories.

A pill that lets you know you have taken it

Smart pills are the future. Patients on regular medication can find it difficult to remember if they have taken the right dose at the right time. A new pill has been created that contains a tiny sensor that records when it is taken – information transmitted to a patch worn by the patient and then sent on to a smartphone.

Patients and doctors can ensure the medication is being taken as needed, an innovation already being used in the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

Other applications include “telemedicine” – where health care can be provided at a distance via phones and IT. Patients can use devices to measure blood pressure, monitor glucose levels and test for conditions from blood samples – and send the results in real time to their doctors.

AI detects skin cancer better than a doctor

A computer trained using images of skin cancer and the corresponding diagnoses achieved a 95 percent detection rate, well above the 87 percent success rate of human doctors, according to research published in the Annals of Oncology.

Through its ability to sift through large amounts of information, AI can help health professionals with complex decision-making, and point out clinical nuances that they might have missed.”

Smart phones can help prevent suicide

Smart phones can diagnose mental health problems by analysing how people tap, scroll and click – behaviour that can predict range of cognitive traits and mood states. Phones can also deliver support to mental health patients via apps.

More than 300 million people around the world suffer from depression and almost 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.

As well as spotting depression, AI might be able to help alleviate it. A trial involving Woebot, a chatbot designed according to the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy, showed that it was effective in treating the condition.