Many of us would want to be immortals. Although it is possible in sci-fi movies and even comics, modern day scientists are still working on technologies that might one day allow us to live a thousand years. Today in this article, we will explore top 10 such medical technologies that are helping us live longer.
The general notion behind this technology is that a body part can be replaced by an implant that functions like natural body part. These implants take input from nervous system in order to respond to an outside stimulus. They can act as a replacement if someone loses his limb in an accident. As long as Steve Martin’s The Man With Two Brains notion that “your brain dies last” hold true, then you can one day have a body of replaced parts. Long story short, we might look like Robo-cop, only better.
9. Brain-Computer Interface
If you have seen “the Matrix” movie, you can easily relate to this technology. The idea is that the computer and the brain can communicate and yes, this technology exists. Maybe not to the extent as shown in movies but for now the technology is limited to repair functions. In short, a brain computer interface can interact with an existing neural function to restore cognitive abilities and functions. Naturally why would the scientists limit themselves to just restoring and repairing, they will strive to achieve greater good; that being to enhance the already existing capabilities. Imagine, you could learn anything you want just in a jiffy, wouldn’t that be a sight. Through this technology brain damage will never be permanent thus prolonging life.
8. DNA Repair
DNA is more than just strands of cell; it is like a computer that directs and repairs your cell. If we manage to repair it or give the DNA the ability to do so on its own then we have more chances of surviving longer than we should. For example, cancer is the breakdown of DNA’s capacity to mend itself, so the key is in understanding how it works and maybe jumpstart it in order for it to repair itself. For simpler understanding, DNA is just like any machine, with regular tune-ups and oiling, it works just as fine. Also once the understanding of its working is there, we can enhance it as well. Controlled mutation may even give us super powers and Professor X will just be another bald guy in a wheel chair.
7. Anti-Aging Enzymes
Research has concluded that two enzymes SIRT3 and SIRT4 are responsible for the process of aging. The cells’ ability to divide and reproduce when hindered shows the signs of aging on humans. If science can restore the depleted cells, the effects of aging can be eliminated. For easy understanding, let us compare the process of aging with the analogy of a battery. A used battery can be recharged, similarly the cells can be repaired and restored in order to remove the effects of aging or even more stop the process. Above explanation implies that in the near future scientists might be able to prolong life by eliminating the effects of aging.
6. Partial Brain Transplant
The working of the brain is still a mystery to the medical practitioners. However an interesting discovery was made by Dr. Dorothy T. Krieger in 1982. She implanted healthy tissue on a damaged part of the brain and not only the brain accepted and assimilated the healthy tissue but it also functioned like a normal brain. She bred two mice, one was normal and the other lacked the ability of producing L.H.R.H. She employed the same procedure and the mouse that originally lacked the ability was now producing L.H.R.H. Scientists are trying to utilize the same principle on humans, if they are successful in “seeding” the brain, the growth will also be possible thus increasing the life of humans.
5. Organ Printing
Organ printing resembles organ donation only in this form cells are used to repair the defected organs. Printing process is said to make organ’s layer and it does it one at a time just like a dot matrix printer. Scientists are currently working on something relatively simple such as vessels. If the technology finds its way, then there will be no need for donors, all that would be required will be some cells from the patient, also eliminating the fear of rejection of the organ.
4. Artificial Organs
The technology is fairly simple to explain but rather difficult to achieve. So far scientists have successfully transplanted a heart and patients can live several years on this artificial heart. The artificial assembly replaces the bottom two ventricles of the heart. It all started in 1982 when one Mr. Barney went through a transplant and getting an artificial device within him pioneered by Dr. Robert Javrik. Due to availability of donors, advances in such technology is hampered but with time, we will see much more than just a heart.
3. Downloading Your Consciousness
This technology comes straight out of a comic book. The notion behind this technology is that one day people will be able to live in computers for thousands of years. The idea is that a computer will have all your information on it integrated with artificial intelligence that would allow us humans to live within a computer. This is presented by a scientist Ian Pearson who is working on this technology as you are reading this article. It is said that by 2050, if you make for that long, this technology will be ready and we will have our very own silicon soul.
2. Suspended Animation
The idea is to increase the time so that the patient can be treated within the “golden hour”. The first hour after a tragedy strikes a patient is called the golden hour. Statistics tell us that most of the battlefield deaths occur when the medical team fails to reach the patient within the first hour. This technology is aimed to pause that time, implying putting the soldier in hibernation as to prolong the time for medical teams to reach. And this is exactly what Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Texas A&M Institute for Preclinical Studies, is working on now. Although currently they are working on squirrels and pigs, hopefully someday even humans will benefit!
1. Whole Head and Whole Body Transplants
The brain is known to be autoimmune. What that infers is that the brain does not reject a brain as it rejects other organs such as liver or kidney. But the challenge with this technology is that it rather difficult to transplant a head, specially have to attach to the nervous system in such a way that the resulting patient is not a quadriplegic. It not easy to detach a head and then attach it again on another body however in 2001, Dr. Robert White transplanted a head of a monkey on another animal. In the future maybe this technology can be successful and voila, all you will need would be a body to attach yourself to and you could live for thousands of years.
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