This is a list of potential medical breakthroughs that I believe will happen in the near future. The list may appear to some as a work of scientific fiction however many of these projects are well under way in the form of “baby steps.” I don’t think it’s too ambitious to expect that within 50 years, many of these scientific achievements will have occurred and be in practise. Many if not all of these future medical breakthroughs have the potential mechanisms to cure Chronic Fatigue Syndrome among a host of other illnesses.
Current computers are silicon based however in the future DNA based computers may be more widely used. DNA computers offer many advantages such as having the potential to store a very large amount of information, relative to silicon based computers. DNA is unique in that it efficiently stores information. 1 milligram of DNA has the ability to store every piece of printed information currently in the world. DNA computing is in its infancy however some important first steps have already been taken. In 2002 researchers showed off a computer with DNA molecules and enzymes as opposed to the traditional silicon chips. Published in 2004 in the journal Nature, researchers described how they created a DNA computer with an input and output module. This has far reaching implications as it could potentially lead to DNA computers diagnosing cancer within individual cells and correspondingly releasing an anti-cancer drug into the cell. DNA computers could also theoretically help cure many other illnesses, including CFS.
Genetic Engineering has already been involved in a number of medical areas. Modified bacteria and the creation of synthetic insulin are two such examples. Genetic Engineering is essentially the process of modifying existing genetic material within the DNA to alter the information that the DNA molecule obtains. The human based medical applications of Genetic Engineering can be divided into two subgroups. The first regards choosing the phenotype of a newborn. The second involves changing the phenotype of a person.
‘Negative Genetic Engineering’ may be used to treat and cure genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, autism, spina bifida, diabetes and possibly forms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (On my mother’s side of my family 6 people out of 26 have been diagnosed with CFS. This suggests a potential genetic component in this instance). These genetic disorders are caused when genes are expressed in flawed ways or not at all. A non-disease causing virus may be released into the body and used to deliver a favourable copy of the individual’s flawed gene/s. In theory, genetic engineering could help people grow back limbs and organs and enhance such bodily functions as lung capacity. Genetic Engineering could also lead to extending life expectancy. Many Genetic Engineering practises raise ethical questions which I will not delve into here.
In 2005/2006, scientists used gene therapy to treat malignant melanomas. Out of the 17 patients, 15 showed a small level or no improvement and 2 were doing well 18 months later. 2 out of 17 (12%) doesn’t seem like a remarkable number however malignant melanomas are an especially dangerous form of cancer that are aggressive and don’t respond to chemotherapy. When taken in context, the 12% number is quite remarkable.
Nanomedicine is a field that combines nanotechnology and medicine. Nanomedicine is a field that is currently very active. In April 2006, the journal Nature Materials reported that approximately 130 nanomedicine based drugs and delivery systems were in development across the world. An exciting aspect of nanomedicine is the ’drug delivery system.’ This system works by drugs being delivered to where they are specifically needed in the body and where the optimal amount of benefit will be derived from the drug. This drug delivery system has the potential to cure diseases in which hard to reach regions of the body or specific regions of the body are affected. Molecules could potentially be built to stick to and hence destroy unwanted cells such as cancerous cells. Robots of unfathomably small size could be built to perform delicate surgeries. These robots could also perform a role like bodily-troopers in which they patrol the body and destroy cancer cells or various unwanted viruses and bacteria. Amongst other ways of helping CFS patients, nanomedicine robots could be targeted to a CFS patient’s immune system to destroy unwanted viruses.
These stem cells have the potential to develop into every tissue, organ and cell within the human body. Stem cells come in two distinct types, adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells are found in every adult’s organs, bone marrow and various other bodily parts. Originally scientists thought that adult stem cells could only be used for the area in which they originated however recent research suggests that adult stem cells can be used in areas other than where they originate. Embryonic stem cells come from an embryo. When the embryo is within its mother’s womb, between 3 and 5 days old, it creates stem cells that work to create the various parts of the fetus. Inside an embryo the size of a full stop are tens of stem cells.
Stem cells have been used for over 30 years. Some of the current drawbacks of stem cell treatments include their cost, their experimental usage and also the number of countries that practice stem cell treatments. Stem cell treatments have the potential to treat; cancer, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Celiac disease, cardiac failure, neurological disorders, spinal cord injury, deafness, blindness, birth defects, infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Currently Dr Cheney is a great proselytizer of stem cell treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients. He has also recently become excited about using a potential treatment method (using hamsters) in which non-stem cell material is taken from stem cells and injected back into the hamster. The material cures the hamsters and despite being pseudo-stem cells acts as stem cells. Dr Cheney has had a good level of success taking CFS patients down to Panama or Costa Rica for stem cell treatment. There is a significant level of interest (and rightly so) about stem cell treatment for CFS on the Phoenix Rising forums in a thread found here: http://www.forums.aboutmecfs.org/showthread.php?484-Stem-Cells
This list is far from a complete list as medical science is always achieving breakthroughs with new and unbeknownst medicine and technology. Many of these breakthroughs are unexpected and it is quite probable that medicine we have not yet conceived of may cure many of the world’s illnesses.
Many of the above treatments will cure CFS. The big question mark is the unknown temporal parameter. When will enough minor breakthroughs occur to add up to a major breakthrough or when will a major breakthrough occur?
It is quite likely that CFS will be cured well before a lot of these “futuristic” treatments become readily available. Potentially curing CFS treatments (for at least a subgroup of CFS patients) may include; Peptides, GCMAF, treatments contained within the exciting future of retroviral research (mainly focused on HIV at present) amongst a range of other treatments. CFS will be cured for all subgroups, the question is when.