CRISPR-CAS9, contains two crucial molecules that allow it to change DNA. The first is an enzyme called CAS9, and it acts as a pair of molecular scissors, which can cut two strands of DNA at a specific location in the genome, and from that point onwards bits of DNA can be added and removed. The second part is a section of RNA, (gRNA-guide RNA), and it acts as a guide for the CAS9 to cut into the right parts of the genome. The gRNA, is designed to attach to a specific sequence, and forms complementary base pairs, to the target DNA. The gRNA will only bind to the target sequence. This tells the CAS9 where it needs to cut. The process forces an induced mutation which is the target. CRISPR-CAS9 was derived from a bacteria that is found in yoghurt, and has a editing system similar to it. CRISPR-CAS9 is currently the most reliable system for editing genes, and shows a lot of promise, due to its potential it has,credited with the likelihood of treating genetic based diseases, such as cancer or alzheimer's.
However a debate is raging on whether they should part from somatic gene editing (non reproductive cells) and move towards germline (reproductive cells) editing. Germline editing is highly controversial as the effects on the offspring are unknown, but germline editing means whatever change is made in germline cells, will be passed on from generation to generation. This form of gene editing is banned in every country, until recently when UK scientists, were allowed to edit genes, but not allowed for the embryo to become living. US scientists recently backed geen editing but have sent out a stern warning against designer babies, due to the ethical dilemma they present and what impact they can have on society. Top US scientists in this field have said that the technology is not in its prime and is not safe enough to be tested on germline.
In America the US patent office has ruled in a dispute over the invention of CRISPR-CAS9, and kept the controversial patents issued to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT(STAT). Despite this, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle of the University of California, published the first paper on CRISPR-CAS9. The scientific community has acclaimed them as the pioneers of the technology. The has allowed both patents to stand, due to STAT claiming they wrote a paper on how CRISPR-CAS9 can be used in eukaryotic cells. The verdict of the patent office, will have an impact on both licensing of the technique for medical use and the recognition of the pioneers of the technology.
Nanotechnology is the ability of manipulating and producing products at a nanoscale that takes place at lower dimensions and sizes. Nanotechnology has been an increasing solution used by doctors to treat medical issues. There are many uses for Nanotechnology: Drug delivery systems, fuel cells, batteries, disinfectants and many more. Nanomedicine not only can it be used for medical purposes but it can also help open up a new understanding of the human anatomy.
Drug Delivery systems
However these nanomaterials and nanotechnology show a diverse broad range of properties and many useful benefits. One main reason for the use of nanotechnology in medicine for drug delivery systems. Buckyballs or buckminster fullerenes are used to deliver drugs to cancer cells. These nanoparticles work as they are attracted towards the cancer cells.
There are still further tests being conducted to test for the safety of these nanoparticles. Nanoparticles delivering chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells are still being tested and improved to ensure it is safe for everyone to use. Other medical uses including the idea came up with the Worcester Polytechnic Institute of putting in antibodies into carbon nanotubes and using them to detect cancer cells. Furthermore scientists were also able to insert sensors into carbon nanotubes which is inserted into gel that can monitor the nitric oxide levels in the blood.
Malaysian scientist along with Harvard university students and experts are finding a way of using nanotechnology and nanomaterials to find a solution of curing lung disease and COPD. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease which is also a lung disease. This treatment involves using chemotherapeutics combined into fine sprays and then it is inhaled. The nanoparticles in that spray will attach to the lungs and deliver the necessary drugs.
Further uses of nanotechnology involves in potential research of tracking and monitoring cancerous or diseased cells. Then it can be used to transport antibodies and drugs to the target cell. Doctors can use biomarkers and nanomaterials to see molecules and cells the their activity that they undergo.
Currently there is a problem of an ageing population, especially in the United States and Japan. In the United States, the percentage of people above the age of 65, are at 13%, and that is set to nearly double by the year 2050 (Pew Research Centre). Life expectancy rates are also increasing, which means that people are more likely to live to an older age, and that age is also rising. However USA is trumped by Japan in terms of the country with the oldest population, with 20% of the population over 65 years of age. Japan currently faces a problem, as the amount of carers has stagnated, and the population is still climbing. Merrill Lynch published a report that projected a 1 million shortfall of carers by the year 2025.
In order to combat this issue, Japanese technology firms are attempting to develop robots in order to take care of the ageing population. These robots are specifically designed to assist elderly people, and Japan is investing 1/3 of its budget to developing these “carebots”, but the investment is worthwhile as Merrill Lynch report stated that the global personal robot market could reach $17.4 billion by 2020. Panasonic Resyone was the first robot that met standard services; also known as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ISO 13482, which allows for “close human-robot interactions so that there will be protection against litigation in the event of an accident occurring”. This was done to combat the ethical issues that are faced by robots helping old people. Are robots advanced enough to support an elderly person emotionally, will there subconscious allow them to make decisions that are not calculated by algorithms? Robobear is a humanoid robot that could eliminate the need for multiple carers, by helping transfer elders from the bed to a wheelchair. Other robot prototypes such as the nursing robot from RIKEN, is capable of lifting people. Hondo have created the ASIMO, which is a humanoid robot that can help the elderly by getting them food or turning off lights.
Robots will certainly help solve the need for carers, but the time frame it will take to bridge the gap is the biggest concern, Merrill Lynch estimate the sales of robots to increase substantially over the next 20 years. In the UK, the NHS is under strain with the ageing population, and the need of robots is rising, without an alternative, the NHS will further strain and problems will pile up.
Stem cells are one of the most promising medical discoveries, and they no doubt have the potential to cure many diseases. Many researchers study this area intensively and recently one team of researchers have made a breakthrough. King’s College London is a leading research university that was behind this discovery. They have discovered a way to “energize” the stem cells to fill in cavities, cracks or chips that may affect the teeth. The promise of this breakthrough will make dental cement obsolete, if it gets as far as it can. Dental cement is notoriously inconsistent and has come under fire for how it can fail at times; along with the fact it prevents the tooth from returning to its normal self. Currently the work has been conducted in mice so far, but researchers have found some methods to conduct this on humans. This will be done through a drug.
By showing the potential of how stem cells in the tooth can be stimulated in such a way, chances are that stem cells in other parts of the body can be stimulated as well. To be able to stimulate where the stem cell actually is rather than taking it out, shows just how far stem cell research could take us. Stem cells are found deep inside, and they could produce new dentin, which is the tissue beneath the enamel. At the moment the tooth can only reiterate minor amounts of dentin, and with major incidents, it cannot make up the entire tooth. The research team at KCL discovered molecules, that boosted the stem cells’ ability to stimulate production of dentin, much more than it can do on a normal basis.
The actual research involved tiny holes drilled into mice’s molars to expose the teeth’s pulp. This is where the stem cells are found, and by using a sponge drenched with the boosting molecule inhibitor (GSK-3), cover the tooth. The process took 6 weeks, and showed significant growth with the dentin. Methods of natural repair have been shown. However more studies on rats will take place to ensure that enough dentin can be manufactured to fill larger holes, before studies on humans will take place. There is major promise into how stem cells can change the world of health and medicine.
Africa has been a continent that has been overshadowed by many other continents, and for time has been at the back end of the line, sadly the continent has been home to many outbreaks of disease, facilitated by the poor medical standards, which is fuelled by the poor economy of many countries. Electricity is not widely available to many people in the world let alone the continent of Africa, with Yale Environment 360 estimating that a total of 1.3 billion people worldwide do not have electricity. With that in account, the world population is tolled at 7.4 billion, this tells us that roughly 17% of the people on Earth are without habitual access to electricity. As the earth as a whole powers through, it is essential that efforts to improve life in Africa and in life in poorly attended areas, improve as a whole.
Steamaco created a micro-grid that had the ability to automate the regulation of electricity. Due to it being difficult to provide solar energy after the sun has gone down, the system would send a message to customers telling them that their energy would be cut off during times when their supply would have been low, in order for hospitals to keep running. It is incredibly important that energy is provided to hospitals, as they are the backbone of the elderly community and the legs of the infancy, lack of a hospital can make life very difficult and the community very sick in the event of an outbreak. These small steps lead to a bigger picture and accelerate the goal of helping electricity reach many people, and allow for more facilities to be built as an extension onto that.
The Africa Prize is given to an individual or group that attempts to solve a problem faced by many, whether it be medical or energy. A shortlist for the prize was the invention of the pneumonia jacket. A jacket that detected pneumonia. Statistically in Uganda, pneumonia kills 27,000 Ugandan children under the age of five, and sadly many of these cases are misdiagnosis of pneumonia as malaria. The engineer of the jacket; Brian Turgabagye designed this biomedical jacket too quickly and efficiently measure the temperature, and breathing rate of a sick child. The jacket is particularly innovative and lifesaving, as it reduces human error of misdiagnosis and it can diagnose pneumonia three to four times faster than a doctor. The jacket works through a stethoscope inside of it. Which is then linked to a mobile phone app that records the audio of the patient’s chest. By detecting lung crackles, a diagnoses can be reached. The ingenuity of this, is the use of a mobile phone app, showing how something so widely available on an international scale, can be used to help save a life.
The importance of these movements to provide Africa with a brighter future and the rest of the world, cannot be stressed enough. International recognition should be paid attention to the African Prize, in hopes that investors such as Mark Zuckerberg who have made it their goal to eradicate disease, to invest in these lifesaving inventions, which will lead to a cleaner future for the world.
Aesthetically the teeth are very important, structurally they allow us to consume foods that we would otherwise never be able to chew in order for it to become a bolus that can be digested by the stomach. I am often asked why I would like to become a dentist; many people find the profession to be monotonous and stressful. In fact a person told me that they had never actually met someone who wanted to become a dentist, and I was taken aback by this. Dentistry is a profession that you decide early on that you are interested in, not one that you randomly choose due to its pay. For my entire life I have always been interested in my own teeth,often when people go to the dentist, they leave without a second thought, merely forgetting their brief encounter. I was not like that. I was interested as to how the teeth worked and the unique material or substance they were made off. Now I know that the outer layer of the tooth is made out of enamel which gives it a white appearance. Beneath that layer is dentin which secretes mineral substances, this element is very important for the teeth. In Scandinavian countries there is a demand for dentists, and this profession is one that is vital for humans. People who suffer from oral or mouth cancer, could potentially be saved in the early stages of their cancer, as dentists are trained to detect signs of cancer through the status of the patient's mouth. There is a gap between technology and dentistry, I hope to bridge that gap to allow treatment of the teeth to improve in poor countries which are need of help. Diseases such as gum disease can be prevented if the teeth are kept in good conditions and regularly checked by the dentists. Looking after the teeth means that the mouth is looked after as well, bacteria from the mouth can make its way into the bloodstream which could cause clogs in the arteries, leading to a reduced blood flow which could lead to a heart attack. As you can see dentistry is an important profession that is definitely as in need as doctors are, both this occupations can save lives and allow for you to have a reputable reputation and a position of self respect.
Orthodontics is a branch to dentistry and deals with more severe cases. Orthodontics helps those people who have a problem with their teeth, either structurally or even aesthetically. Many people wear braces to allow their teeth to have the correct structure they need to consume food in their day to day lives. Sadly due to the amount of young people consuming drinks such as coca cola, their teeth have been damaged. Luckily there are methods for people's teeth to be returned to a state where they are pleasing aesthetically and for them work properly.
Dentistry is a profession that should not be taken lightly and there is certainly a demand for them. Unfortunately many people find it to be a boring profession especially due to the lack fo interest in the younger generations. Hopefully dentistry will revive to a more respected position in the view of people.