Comments on "Engineer Better Medicines"

Katie Gramling
Katie Gramling

PostedFebruary 15, 2008

Engineering can help personalize medical treatments, potentially making them more effective.  Systems that can better analyze genetic information may also lead to better strategies to combat drug-resistance.  Where can engineering have the most impact on medicine?

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  • Harold M. Frost, III, Ph.D.
    Harold M. Frost, III, Ph.D.

    Posted 3 years and 1 month ago

    Harold M. Frost, III, Ph.D. from Vermont, USA comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    The paradigm for this Grand Engineering Challenge (GEC) needs to be opened up for a truly conceptually global and thus really fruitful discussion of it. For example, my experience as a research physicist in the biological sciences indicates that macroscopic medical imaging can also be very important for “personalized medicine.” However, the term “medical imaging” or just “imaging” could not be found in the text of the article itself or the comment responses to it. This topic of imaging is contained, however, within a second GEC article of "Engineer the tools of scientific discovery." For example, this statement appears in the article on this GEC, with regard to how engineering will impact biological research: “Biologists are always seeking, for instance, better tools for imaging the body and the brain.”

    Thus I was pleased to learn of the Seattle Grand Challenge Summit of May 2010 in Seattle, Washington, USA, with a focus on just these two, mutually interacting GEC's, viz.,

    (A) "Engineer better medicines" and
    (B) "Engineer the tools of scientific discovery."

    Welcome-address and Session-1 speakers and panelists for the first theme on better medicines as explored at this summit included: Hugh Chang (PATH), Matt O'Donnell (Univ. of Washington), John Markoff (correspondent, The New York Times), Nicolas A. Pappas (Univ. of Texas at Austin), Suzie Pun (Univ. of Washington), Lonnie Edelheit (General Electric, retired senior VP), and Bruce Montgomery, M.D. (Gilead Sciences, Inc.). Details including videos and pdf documents are available at or through the grandchallengesummitDOTorg web site.

    Delving into all the content available online is a large and time-consuming task, only part of which I completed. Yet in doing this I did encounter enough material to identify these two suggestions for opening up the discussion online here or even adding to the program of a possible follow-on summit on these two inter-related GEC's:

    (1) Expand the reach of the general notion of "medicines" to include the use of radiation fields to track and enhance drug delivery across barriers in tissue (e.g., the BBB) or even to induce palliative and other beneficial chemical or biochemical reactions there or elsewhere, but without administration of drugs. The term "radiation" is used here in a generalized sense to include acoustic, elastodynamic and electromagnetic fields as well as nuclear. At low or ‘signal’ levels of intensity, these types of radiation can be used for imaging purposes. At high or ‘power’ levels, though, they can be used to change structure, composition, and properties of biological tissue in controlled ways, including beneficial induction of (A) chemical or biochemical reactions or (B) changes in their rate constants. This might be especially useful for treating chronic diseases, as opposed to infectious ones. This suggestion is prompted in part by watching the archived video of Suzie Pun's presentation at the Seattle Summit in which optical movies were shown of the spatial movement within the single cell of structural features in response to progress in the local delivery of an administered drug.

    (2) Make term-searchable full-text transcripts (and PPP versions) of all the talks (and posters) delivered or presented at this GEC summit.* This would help researchers to find out where their own expertise intersects the details of the challenges involved, so that they know not only more about where to join the conversation but also, perhaps, how to fine-tune their present research projects or even to propose new ones via grant applications to federal agencies such as one of the Institutes at NIH to join the hunt itself for better medicines in the 21st century.


    * Doing the same for the “global grand challenges summit” in London in March 2013 could help, too, due to possible future expansion by the NAE of the topic of “personalized medicine” to “regenerative and personalized medicine.” Details are available at the web site for the (U.K.) Royal Academy of Engineering.
  • Oscar
    Oscar

    Posted 3 years and 6 months ago

    Oscar from Mexicali comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    The development of new medical instruments help healing many diseases today are incurable or difficult to cure.
    The advance in the creation of synthetic organs is also amazing, I hope that soon we can reproduce all the human organs, this will save many lives.
  • Anthony
    Anthony

    Posted 4 years and 12 months ago

    Anthony from USA comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Understanding nature will be a perpetual task in the creation of new technology, which have to be in harmony with each other. Pharmaceutical drugs and medical technology do help in many situations as does the effects of letting life take it's course. Maybe the best thing we can do is accept life how it is during the present, not worry of the mishaps, and pursue our dreams with optimism. Maybe a form technology can be invented that scans and reads extreme details of an individual along with the community of their family to furthure understand the DNA "blood-line." Such technology surely has to be similiar somewhere. This kind of information might be helpful with a system that reads patterns/ similarities/ new findings to match complex cenerios that effect the human body when certain situations are inputed automatically to find the best possible solution. So maybe we need robot doctors? lol

    Also to add, the pursuit of "immortality" should be important in my opinion. With a longer life span, everyone would have so much more time to solve problems and live life with less stress. There have also been studies on populations with long lifespans on average (that they reproduce less often and such.)

    Just a couple of inputs I have...
  • robertInokc
    robertInokc

    Posted 5 years and 8 months ago

    robertInokc from norman, ok comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    "personalizing medicine" can lead to genetic stereotyping of people with conditions we barely understand. understanding biological complexity is very difficult. Pushing for rapid drug development can lead to sterotyping and suppress better understanding of the deeper complexity in living things.
  • chitra
    chitra

    Posted 8 years and 4 months ago

    chitra from USA comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    hii 'Time And health are two precious assets that we don't recognize and appreciate until they have been depleted." i saw this quote on internet and i really liked it and it is true. sometimes i tell my mom that our world is growing fast and there are so many discoveries made;for example new technologies are being invented, new medicines etc. i am not interested in medical field but when i see shows of dwarf people i really want to invent a medicine that will make them average size. i know when i see commercial of medicines there are so many side effects which nodoby likes. people are not realizing that our nature is so beautiful... What about plants which can grow in our garden like tulsi, neem, eucalyptus they are some plants which can cure many diseases, but we take artificial things(medicines)like advil or something else. i think that herbs are the best thing that can cure any medical problems and i am not going to say that it will work ,but you have to try.may be it will.
  • Gene A.
    Gene A.

    Posted 8 years and 10 months ago

    Gene A. from Langhorne comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Engineering medicine is fine for some things. But I really believe that the human body reacts better to natural medicines. It only makes sense that 2 natural organic entities, the human body and natural medicine, would work well in conjunction with each other. I'm not trying to make this a "save the earth" issue but we have so many resources, in just the rain forests alone, and many more that have yet to be discovered. I'm sure engineered medicine has an important place but I think natural medicines should always be the first choice. I also agree with a previous poster. Get rid of the pharmaceutical lobbyists and get back to the business of healing people. It's amazing how greed causes the deaths of so many people for the benefit of so few. By the way, I saw this on Science Cheerleader.
  • Matt Metcalf
    Matt Metcalf

    Posted 8 years and 11 months ago

    Matt Metcalf from Evansville, IN comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Several of the commenters seem to be opposed to the idea of engineering medicine. Their solution seems to be, don't get sick. Of course, that's not always within people's control. Some people are born with illnesses and some develop over time. In fact, even if all other illnesses are cured, you will eventually die of old age, which is nothing more than accumulated damage to your body. Engineering better medicines can help with developmental disabilities, chronic conditions, and, yes, even aging. Your body is a very complex machine, but like other machines, when parts suffer damage, they can be repaired. The problem is that everyone's body is different, and thus treatments that work for one person may not work as well for another. Engineering better medicines needs to start with engineering diagnostic devices to determine which medicine or combination of medicines will work best for which people, possibly even synthesizing compounds specific to their subject.
  • luisella
    luisella

    Posted 9 years and 2 months ago

    luisella from Italia comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Adopting healthy life style and healthy diet is the key. Adopting a new healty think, new charge relations in every action and think, without the subjecting to the power-authority structure, learning the real power of love, I think is the road to the progress with healty life. Not too much tecnology, we need! Progress is not tecnology. Tecnology is only a little progress possibility in all the life.
  • janet jones
    janet jones

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    janet jones from chicago comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    In response to Svetlana, Los Angeles and Hemophilia A. Yes, advancements are being made. Check out the research being done by Dr. Gupta at the Albert Einstein Coll. of Med. of Yeshva University. His team has cured hemophilia A in mice in their lab.
  • janet jones
    janet jones

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    janet jones from Chicago, Illinois comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    nerve regeneration and curing neurological diseases are top of my wish list. The millions of people afflicted with these devestating conditions have little or no hope for any type of cure. People are struck down in the prime of their lives, often with small children. With these diseases, many others beside the patient, have their lives completely devastated. Unlike so many manageable chronic conditions, we people face continued, unstoppable, deterioration. We are treated as the lost causes. Even during hospitalizations, nurses, doctors, therapists, ignore us, mistreat us and treat us as somehow less human than their patients with potential for recovery. We're treated as time wasters. They can't understand our suffering. They don't understand our pain, so chose to sedate and dull our senses, when all we want is a chance at a cure, no matter how painful, or difficult, or remote it may be. We hear of all the sympathy and resources spent on the people who willingly self destructed their bodies with drugs, alcohol, gross obesity, reckless sexual behavior, etc. who want to claim a disease and use up the treasure and toil of medical research community ! That disgusts me! I do not "chose" a disease a day at a time! I did not inject, or swallow or ask anyone to enable my disease into being. I do not return time and again to a treatment facility on the taxpayer or insurance companies dime that only uses up the funds to cure REAL DISEASES. Please keep up the research with genetic, biotechnology. We want to be cured
  • Tony Scolaro
    Tony Scolaro

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Tony Scolaro from Columbia, MD comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Where would such medicines make the biggest difference? I think the authors of the article just grazed over the most important issue driving this challenge. Health care costs are exploding. When the baby boom retires and begins to consume vast quantities of medicare, we will either bankrupt the country or cut them off, UNLESS we are able to engineer personalized health care. Moving to a personalized care based upon genetics should allow us to fight disease more effectively, striking at disease in its earliest stages when it is easiest to cure. The promise of personalized medical care is far lower costs and better results. Both of my parents experienced one form or another of senior dementia. This is one of the cruelest forms of disease leaving a shell that physically resembles a lolved one while robbing us of that individual. Determining what causes dementia and preventing it is just one example of where personalized medicine could not only reduce costs (without decreased capacity, they could care for themselves) but also improve the quality of life for the affected and their loved ones. Tony
  • Andrew
    Andrew

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Andrew from Arizona, USA comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    First prevention is very important and I would take it further and say that foods we know are bad for us should not be allowed to be made or should come with warning labels like tobacco products. Second drugs are not always the answer. We need to find alternative methods of control of viruses and such. One good example was in a recent article on livescience.com about using a viruses natural frequency to break it apart using a laser. This seems to me to be much more effective and without side effects than using a drug that it could become resistant to or could cause serious side effects.
  • Danny White
    Danny White

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Danny White from Colorado Springs comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Where is medicine the cheapest in the world? Germany and Cuba. Why? Because the Government pays for everything and will only pay x amount. America is held captive by the lobbiest and pharmisudical companies. We need to get back to the natural stuff.
  • Danny White
    Danny White

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Danny White from Colorado Springs comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Synthisized medicine is bad for you. They all have side effects. Granted sometimes the side effect are worth it. But God gave us everything we need in His creation, we just need to better explore all of natures natural remedies; which is what the major pharmicudical companies do anyway and then synthisize it so they can patent it to make more money from it. Three years ago I had a cough in my chest that I could not get rid of. I went to the doctor twice (a month apart) and got an antibiotic each time. Neither one worked. I found a natural compination of two garlics that were put together as away to improve your immune system. The stuff worked great and is cheaper than going to the Doctors office.
  • Amanda
    Amanda

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Amanda from Alabama, US comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    I believe that improving th overall quality of human health will depend more on educating the public about disease prevention (health, nutrition, safety, etc) and aproaching the problems of disease from a more root-cause analysis than curing already existing cases.
  • Donna
    Donna

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Donna from Ft Lauderdale comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    When you speak engineer better medicines, I am trying to understand why we are not covering nutrition as prevenative medicine. The research is already out there, it just never gets national attention. Why? Most addictions and diesease can be controlled , even prevented eating whole foods, Dairy and meat come on the data is out there how it contributes to the diseases we manufacture so many medicines for. Nutrition, it very simple when you think about it. It is a no brainer. I know this will never happen and it makes me so sad to think money is before people. Good Luck to the USA
  • Roger Berwanger
    Roger Berwanger

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Roger Berwanger from Maryland USA comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    More research into endogenous retroviruses and genetically engineered medicines will benefit hunans as wel as all other living things.
  • Aino Tuominen
    Aino Tuominen

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Aino Tuominen from Finland comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Adopting healthy life style and healthy diet is the key. No new medical treatments are really needed, I think.
  • Andrew Chaffin
    Andrew Chaffin

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Andrew Chaffin from Waipahu, Hawaii comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Mabey better drugs for HIV patients, of meds that conqure cancer?
  • Andrew Kemp
    Andrew Kemp

    Posted 9 years and 6 months ago

    Andrew Kemp from Sydney comments on Where would such medicines make the biggest difference?
    Healthy lifespan increase must be developed in concert with water and agriculture development, as well as population control measures/coordination. Also, having a background in organic chemistry and biochemistry, I think the DNA molecule should be investigated for its electromagnetic properties, especially in 'junk' DNA: it seems reasonable to me that its central channel would harbour such energy. This may be key to manipulating gene behaviour, as opposed to chemical manipulation alone. Does the junk DNA have global regulatory effects? This must be investigated.