A new wave of therapies are emerging. These technologies don’t simply mask symptoms and provide palliative care, but leverage our own biology to target interventions and even cure the previously incurable. ‘Advanced Therapies’ include gene therapies, stem cell therapies and tissue engineered products. These technologies have the capability to target fundamental disease mechanisms, ultimately extending healthy lifespan; in 2030 you might be opting for genetic ‘surgery’, or cellular ‘medicine’ as opposed to popping a pill.
Gene therapies provide both the power, and the opportunity, to radically alter the code of humanity. A high-risk cancer gene, passed down from generation to generation for millions of years could be simply snipped from your genome. Stem cell therapies enhance the body’s natural capacity for regeneration, replacing stem cells that decline in number and lose function with age. ‘Tissue engineering’ is the formation of any new tissue for a medical purpose, generally involving the use of a scaffold. This tissue might be used to replace, repair, maintain and/or enhance tissue function.
These platform technologies provide a multitude of opportunities to address ageing-associated diseases. What might the field look like in 2030? Which technologies are the ones to watch? What are the challenges to progress? Find out soon in the World Economic Forum ShapeHealth 2030 Publication, due 2017.
Founding Director, New Medicine Partners