With 2017 swiftly coming to a close, many are looking to the new year for its potential scientific and technological advancements. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of healthcare and medicine, where life-changing advancements could be just one small discovery away from altering the face of treatment for millions forever. New medical updates are inevitable and some doctors and scientists are already predicting what advancements 2018 will hold.
Dr. David Agus is not just a successful medical practitioner, but also a celebrated author in his own right. The regular CBS News contributor, who also holds a teaching post at at the University of Southern California, is perhaps best known for his seminal works The End of Illness and The Lucky Years: How to live in the age of smart medicine, with both ranking on the New York Times‘ Bestseller list. The doctor is recognized for his forward-thinking approach to medical advancements and therefore his predictions for 2018 carry some well-earned weight.
As far as medical advancements in 2018 are concerned, Dr. Agus speculates it could be the year of both gene editing and vaccines. Agus says 2018 will finally bring an updated vaccine for the virus, a profound advancement given that United States health authorities expect incidents of the condition to rise in the near future. A sister of sorts to the chickenpox, shingles is a widespread virus that afflicts at least a third of all adults with its painful rashes and blistering. The new vaccine will replace a severely outdated version and is recommended for all adults aged 50 and up.
Another development to catch Agus’ interest is continuing work towards a universal flu vaccination. While still in development, this new vaccine is planned to tackle multiple strains at once and will obviate the need to receive a new flu vaccination each year. While still undergoing clinical trials, Agus called the new flu remedy a “very exciting” development.
Another one of Agus’ concerns for the new year is the issue of regulation for gene therapy research. The doctor identified a clear lack of regulatory policies and delineated leadership within the healthcare field to handle this controversial line of research. He hopes that some balance can be struck as the world of genetic therapy is rife with questionable applications. He highlighted that, while it’s a valuable tool for fighting disease, it could also be used for more controversial applications like selecting for particular traits in unborn children, effectively creating an industry for “designer babies.”