Many of us have been injured at one point or another in our lives. For those of you who haven't, you probably will someday. The good news is medical technologies are advancing every single day.
So what if I told you Doctor Ben Almquist at the Imperial College in London developed a molecule that helps our cells restructure themselves? This molecule can be applied to a host of different materials to increase their effectiveness.
These molecules are known as traction-force activated payloads(TrAPs) and are extremely versatile. Not only do TrAPs naturally increase the rate of healing in cells, they can even be tailored to specific cells.
This molecule could revolutionize regenerative medicine thanks to this versatility. A doctor can personalize treatments for people with any sort of cell-related trauma including burns.
It will even help laboratory studies on stem cells, diseases, and even tissue development. Sounds like a pretty big deal, but how does that get us closer to Sci-Fi healing tech?
This discovery, as it stands now, isn't the miracle of technology. We need to introduce things like hypo-sprays and regeneration pods (medical pods anyone?). However, it does point us in the right direction to understand our own body's regenerative process in enough depth to start the creation of these technologies.
It's still injecting a substance into your body. That's smarts!
What exactly would it take to make something like a programmable hypo-spray possible? First, we would need a universal catalyst to healing our bodies which TrAPs is a great step towards.
The next step in a Hypo-Spray that can be programmed at a whim for the patient and their needs would be nanobots. Nanobots are currently a theoretical venture in science, though they are being researched.
In order to reach nanobots, we must first develop smart microbots. Microbots are currently being researched and developed across the globe.
Recently, a group of scientists developed a microbot that is elastic in form and can change shape based on its surroundings. Each microbot is designed with the goal of precise drug delivery in mind. These miniature robots do more than just bend and twist. Their structure is designed around a concept called Embodied Intelligence.
An origami structure is used for each microbot that allows them to fold and change shape based on their surroundings. They can even change their shapes based on the viscosity of the liquid they are deployed in.
What would happen if these microbots got a hold of a few TrAPs to help rebuild damaged cells throughout the body? Something incredibly similar to a hypo-spray.
What about regeneration pods? How much closer are we to waking up in perfect health every morning?
When you consider the two discoveries already presented, I'd imagine it's about as far away as hypo-sprays. I've always pictured regeneration pods as a chamber filled with regenerative nanobots.
Are there other forms of technology that aid in healing? Absolutely.
Sound waves have also been shown to have interesting effects on cells. A University Of Washington team was studying something called boiling histotripsy when they made an unexpected discovery.
They were melting tumors using high-frequency sound waves in millisecond-long bursts. When they examined what was left, they realized the technology may be used in regenerative medicine as well.
There's even research being done on using sound as a sort of “tweezers” to manipulate cells without harming them. What if we could completely map out a person's health down to a cellular level?
Could we use an acoustic regeneration pod to target specific groups of unhealthy cells, melt them with soundwaves, and leave the good stuff behind for the body to use in its own healing process?
I highly doubt I'm the first person to envision such a thing. Still, no technology is created without a vision to pull from and Science-Fiction has given reality no shortage of inspiration.
Thankfully for us all, there are some cool things we can do while we wait for this technology. Things like 3D print our own hypo-spray prop.
Andrew Uphoff is an independent author and blogger for ten years. When he’s not indulging his inner coffee nerd, he’s looking for new ideas to help push humanity towards the future. A love for fiction, video games particularly, has always driven him to expand on the ideas within the universe of another writer’s mind. Now he hopes to provide a thought-provoking dialogue both in fiction, and reality. www.chainedreality.com.