10 Diseases We’ll Cure in the Next 20 Years

nas·cent/ˈnāsənt/
Adjective:
Just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential; not yet fully developed.

Three nascent sciences, gene therapy, stem cell use and nanotechnology, will come of age in the next 20 years.

Each of these sciences are in their own right pregnant with the seeds of revolutionary change, and when combined they hold the promise of curing nearly every thinkable illness. Whereas these treatments are experimental and expensive today, 20 years from now, they will be common and affordable.It’s difficult to say exactly how these technologies will converge, but combinations of any or all of these could become panaceas before long.

Stem Cells

Stem cells are like blank slates. They’re cells that don’t yet have an identity, a role. But we can assign roles to stem cells, and tell them whether to become a skin cell, a brain cell or a part of any organ we want. Granted, we’re only beginning to learn how to do this, but we’ve already grown functioning livers, bladders, ears, and lungs in laboratories by dripping little drops of stem cells onto molds. So stem cells can be used to repair damages in organs and tissue, or to simply replace faltering organs altogether. They will soon obviate the need for organ donors. We’ll instead have organ factories that make hearts, eyes, kidneys; you name it, on demand and off the shelf. Read about one man who was cured of AIDS using stem cells

Nanotechnology

Ray Kurzweil has said that computers that used to take up a whole room in the sixties, now fit in his pocket, and that these same computing powers will fit inside a blood cell within a generation. When processors are so small that they can be injected into your blood stream, you can send in billions of them to repair and regenerate tissue as it degenerates, enabling a continuous rejuvenation of all organs. If a malignant tumor is discovered somewhere in your body, a billion strong army of well trained nanobots could be deployed to defeat it. Nanotech will also enable the implantation of microchips in our brains, where they have already cured depression and anxiety disorders in test patients.

Gene Therapy

And then, of course, there is gene manipulation, which can take both a proactive and a preventative nature. Through accurate alterations in a fetus’ or baby’s genetic makeup, hereditary diseases would be precluded from ever causing any trouble in the first place. If, upon analyzing your child’s DNA, your doctor finds it predisposed to Down’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, or ADHD for instance, he will have the ability to change or fix the relevant chromosomes. One man was cured of a blood disease through gene therapy.

Which diseases will we cure?

Diseases that in 20 years will either be eliminated or that people will be able to live with via treatments:

  1. Most cancers
  2. Alzheimer’s
  3. Parkinson’s
  4. Blindness
  5. Multiple Sclerosis
  6. Alcoholism/Addiction
  7. Depression
  8. Anxiety disorders
  9. Heart disease
  10. Arthritis

This list is by no means exhaustive, and when looking back in 2030, it could be much, much longer.

Obstacles

Social Darwinists, religious fundamentalists and other skeptics towards game changing science will do their part to decelerate this progress, as they did with in-vitro fertilization (which continues to give the joy of parenthood to millions), gene modified crops (which continues make food increasingly affordable to the hungry masses without the prophesized side effects) and on countless other accounts.

But in the end, reason and compassion will prevail, as it always does in time.

Disease eradication goes hand in hand with prosperity. Many poverty stricken populations, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, suffer needless deaths from Malaria, AIDS and Polio. Those are all perfectly treatable diseases (indeed most HIV positive patients from the industrialized world are now able to live full lives), yet, without the most important prerequisite for medical progress – wealth – many Africans remain defenseless in the face of for instance Malaria. They can’t afford to keep their cattle in barns, they have no houses with sealed windows behind which to hide at dusk and dawn, and they can’t afford treatment once infected. Africa will be the last continent to reach economic prosperity, and subsequently the last to enjoy the health benefits that accompany affluence.

But that day too will come – in our lifetime.

 

EDITORS NOTE: As a futurist, I make predictions of what I think will happen based on my research. These are predictions I hope I will live to see. There is a good chance that these treatments will extend my life long enough to allow me to see my predictions come true!

 

Related posts

5 Ways To Turn Fear Into Fuel

Uncertainty. It’s a terrifying word.

Living with it, dangling over your head like the sword of Damocles, day in day out, is enough to send anyone spiraling into a state of anxiety, fear and paralysis.

Like it or not, though, uncertainty is the new normal. We live in a time where the world is in a state of constant, long-term flux. And, that’s not all. If you want to spend your time on the planet not just getting-by, but consistently creating art, experiences, businesses and lives that truly matter, you’ll need to proactively seek out, invite and even deliberately amplify uncertainty. Because the other side of uncertainty is opportunity.

Nothing great was ever created by waiting around for someone to tell you it’s all going to be okay or for perfect information to drop from the sky. Doesn’t happen that way. Great work requires you to act in the face of uncertainty, to live in the question long enough for your true potential to emerge. There is no alternative.

When you find the strength to act in the face of uncertainty, you till the soil of genius.

Problem is, that kills most people. It leads to unease, anxiety, fear and doubt on a level that snuffs out most genuinely meaningful and potentially revolutionary endeavors before they even see the light of day. Not because they wouldn’t have succeeded, but because you never equipped yourself to handle and even harness the emotional energy of the journey.

But, what if it didn’t have to be that way?

What if there was a way to turn the fear, anxiety and self-doubt that rides along with acting in the face of uncertainty–the head-to-toe butterflies–into fuel for brilliance?

Turns out, there is. Your ability to lean into the unknown isn’t so much about luck or genetics, rather it’s something entirely trainable. I’ve spent the past few years interviewing world-class creators across a range of fields and pouring over research that spans neuroscience, decision-theory,psychology, creativity and business.

Through this work, a collection of patterns, practices and strategies have emerged that not only turbocharge insight, creativity, innovation and problem-solving, but also help ameliorate so much of the suffering so often associated with the pursuit of any creative quest.

Here are 5 starter-strategies to help get you going:

1. Reframe.

We tell ourselves stories all day long. I’m skinny. I’m fat. I’m talented. I’m stupid. This is genius. This is awful. I will succeed. I will fail. I’m terrified and anxious. I’m confident and proactive. It turns out, the storylines we create around a particular circumstance are far more determinable of success than the circumstance itself. They affect not only our willingness to act, but the quality of our ideas and solutions.

If you create a story that empowers action and innovation, that’s great news. Unfortunately, our brains have a strong bias toward negativity, leading most of us to create stories around circumstances that need action in the face of uncertainty that are more likely to paralyze and stunt creativity than fuel action.

Reframing is a process that asks you to suspend negative story lines  explore if the story you’re telling is the only one and, if not (which is inevitably the case), construct or frame a new story line that empowers you to experience an uncertain circumstance not as a prime for failure and inaction, but as a signpost for meaning and opportunity.

For example, if you’re disabling storyline is around the risk of failure, instead of just asking “what if I fail?” and creating a doomsday scenario, you also ask “how will I recover, what if I do nothing and what if I succeed?” Then build new stories around those questions.

2. Practice Mindfulness.

Reframing is an immensely powerful tool in the quest to lean into the unknown. But it also requires a certain equanimity; the ability to pull back and see what’s really going on, re-center, then breath into that uncomfortable place long enough for amazing things to bubble up. Over time, a daily mindfulness practice goes a long way toward equipping you to do just that.

Plus, it cultivates the sense of persistent grounding that makes living and acting in a world where there is no new normal far more enjoyable. And it trains you in the practice of dropping thoughts, among those, destructive, limiting-beliefs.

3. Exercise Your Brain.

We’ve all seen the research on exercise and health, weight loss and disease prevention. But, did you know that certain approaches to exercise also have a profound effect on your brain?

Daily cardiovascular exercise, for example, especially with high-intensity bursts mixed in can improve mood, executive function, decision-making and creativity and decrease anxiety and fear. The latest research even reveals the possibility that exercise can grow new brains cells, something that until only a few years ago, was thought to be impossible. It’s also strongly correlated with decreases in anxiety and increases in mood, which are directly connected to improved creativity and problem-solving.

4. Single Task.

Multitasking is out. Turns out this badge of honor from the ’90s is more fiction than fact. Our brains don’t multitask, they just rapidly switch between tasks, sometimes fast enough for us to believe we’re doing many things at once. Problem is, every time we switch, there is a “ramping cost” in your brain, it takes anywhere from a few second to 15 minutes for your brain to fully re-engage. This makes you feel insanely busy, but simultaneously craters productivity, creativity and increases feelings of anxiety and stress.

Multitasking also requires you to hold a lot of information in your working memory, which is controlled by a part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC). But the PFC is also responsible for will-power, and for keeping fear and anxiety in check. Multitasking increases the “cognitive load” on the PFC, overwhelming it and effectively killing it’s ability to keep fear, anxiety and the taunt of distraction at bay.

Simple solution–just say no. Do one thing at a time in intense, short bursts.

5. Get Lean.

Instead of creating in a vacuum, explore the possibility of bringing a “lean” or “agile” approach to your creative process. Focus on maximum learning, create the simplest version of your idea possible, then bring a select group of those who’d potentially enjoy it into the process earlier in name of soliciting and integrating input into the next iteration. This not only minimizes waste, it changes the psychology of creation by adding more certainty earlier in the game and encouraging consistent, incremental action.

These five strategies and practices can change the way you experience the creative process in a profound way. They’ll not only allow you to tap a reservoir of previously hidden creativity, they’ll also allow you to experience any creative endeavor with a far deeper sense of equanimity and joy.

[notice]Editor’s note: This is a post from Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance.[/notice]

Related posts