How medicine has gone from reactionary to preventative

Most of us take our health for granted. It is only when we feel unwell that doctors, nurses, and hospitals come to mind. We think of science and medicine as a means to cure diseases but very seldom think about it in terms of prevention. There is good reason for that. While medicine has had great success in preventing certain diseases with tools like vaccination, our healthcare system is largely based on treating conditions after they have developed.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that. Like any other industry, our healthcare system is a reflection of our current capabilities. It is mostly reactionary because that is the nature of the tools that we have at our disposal. That is not to say the results have been anything short of amazing. Every year, more than 100,000 organs are transplanted worldwide. Additionally, millions of people recover from life-threatening diseases thanks to a wide array of treatments. That being said, we are still waiting for people to get sick before seeking treatment.

The shift towards a preventative approach

Focusing on the preventative aspect of medicine has taken us even further. The main resources that health professionals have at their disposal are regular checkups and the promotion of healthy habits. The former is limited by what a doctor can see at the time and the latter is often too broad. It is hard to produce individualized recommendations without evidence of something going wrong with a patient.

Of course, visiting your primary care doctor every year and adopting healthy habits —exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate rest— are important to preserve your health. But imagine how useful it would be to know in advance precisely which diseases you will confront in the future. Now consider the possibility that through science and technology we could eradicate those diseases before the first symptoms appear. That is the promise of regenerative medicine and genetic engineering.

Woman in blue scrub suit helping woman sitting on bed by conducting a preventive health checkup
Regular health checkups and the promotion of healthy habits have been the main preventive health mechanism. There are now new opportunities you can take to prepare for preventive and precision medicine.

Getting a leg up on disease

The cornerstone of any successful strategy to prevent disease is reliable information. To obtain it you have to look no further than your own cells. They contain several layers of information that can potentially give scientists the ability to identify the conditions that you are most likely to face in your lifetime.

In the future, if your doctor could anticipate that you are going to experience Cystic Fibrosis, for instance, they could act long before the appearance of the first symptoms. One potential way to do this would be through CRISPR technology. It is a tool that allows for gene editing. Scientists could use it to take out the genes that would otherwise lead you to develop the illness. As a result, you would not have to wait for the problem to emerge before taking action.

The first step you must take to put yourself in a position to benefit from these advances is to have your cells banked as soon as possible. Extracting cells may sound daunting, but it is as simple as plucking hairs from your head. By preserving your cells at their youngest (today) and in advance of illness, you are securing the healthiest version of your cells for the future when you will need them most. Once our scientists analyze them and consider them viable, they will freeze them down in liquid nitrogen (at -190°C) to stop their aging process. When you need them either for analytical purposes or for treatment, they will be there waiting for you, as young and healthy as the day you saved them.

Looking to the future

Considering the amount of research currently underway, the future of preventative medicine looks bright. Although making predictions can be difficult, Dr. Drew Taylor, PhD, MSc, co-founder of Acorn, is confident that we will see this research give rise to mainstream treatments in the coming years and decades. ‘We are entering the era of regenerative medicine. In the coming years, more and more cell-based therapies will be discovered and help countless people across the globe. We are already seeing cell-based therapies help people today. I banked my wife’s and my cells to make sure we will be able to have access to these treatments. But I have banked our children’s as well, and I can’t even imagine what will be possible in their lifetimes’.

The latest scientific advancements have the power to shift the focus of healthcare from reactionary to preventative. Armed with insights into their future, individuals will, for the first time, be in a position to address the causes of disease and prevent it from manifesting.

To learn more about cell banking, its benefits, and pricing, click here.

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