What does the next millennium hold for genetics? A look ahead
Medical miracles happen every day. If we look back even 10 years ago you can see weve come a long way in the treatment of cancer, AIDS and other diseases. What is ahead, where are we going in this the 21st century? Expect to see technical advancements from the world of genetics to the way we see a doctor.
Arthur Chapan, Ph.D. talks of his ideas of what we will see and how our world will change. These are predictions Dr. Chapan gave to MSNBC and we believe they are interesting and worth covering here.
Brain Scans will lead to a revolution in medicine and law even bigger than that brought on by genetic advances. Researchers are just discovering that the link between behavior and brain is much tighter than between genes and behavior and Dr. Chapan says that will lead to major changes in the next 100 years. Brains scans will identify and guide treatment of children at risk of antisocial behavior. The same holds true for those with learning disorders as well as those with special talents and skills. We will also introduce brain-scanning results into the courts and legal system. The military will start brain scanning all recruits. Treatment of mental illness will be guided by neurological scanning.
By 2100, a doctors visit will include a scan of our DNA, taken from a swab of our cheek or skin cells. Based on the results, the doctor will prepare a health risk profile and recommend a diet of genetically engineered foods that deliver preventive medicines as well as lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of disease and disability.
Major ethical issues will be privacy: Who gets to see our DNA risk profile? And will we be coerced into being healthy if we are at risk?
In general, medicine will no longer be provided in hospitals. They will
be considered too dangerous and too expensive. A combination of Internet
care, virtual therapies and smaller home care and hospice-type programs will
replace the hospital for all but major surgery.
An animal organ from a genetically engineered pig will be transplanted into a human sometime in the next two years. And, the first successful cure of a disease using gene therapy will involve the treatment of the human eye; it too will take place within two years.
Dr. Chapin asks just one thing of all us reading his predictions: make sure to keep copies of this column. He says he knows his children and their children will look forward to reading about the predictions he got rightand he knows hell hear about those he got wrong.
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