If you’ve kept up on technology as we search for Osama Bin Laden you may know the U.S. Military, and the CIA, have unmanned drones aloft over war zones. Those “eyes in the sky” carry missiles and are flown remotely by “pilots” in air conditioned trailers near Las Vegas. For them warfare is like a video game.
No matter how you feel about war in the air or on the ground, you have to marvel at the technology and wish it could apply to other needs, like fighting disease and illness.
Guess what? It can and it will.
A fascinating article in the The New York Times this past weekend detailed how companies are developing what one calls the “iPill”. This nifty little “smart medicine” will allow just the right dose to be delivered to just the right place. Beyond that, the device will be able to respond to commands from a doctor – dispense more medicine, dispense less, start or stop. It’s a little like “ET” phoning home.
For me, this is so cool. For several years now I have hosted webcasts talking about “targeted therapies.” Typically this has been in cancer and auto-immune conditions where biologic medicines have been injected to home in on and switch on or off a specific component of a sick cell. But these medicines don’t “phone home.” Their effect is observed by other tests and whether the patient’s condition improves. But imagine if the pill could actually send messages over the Internet, for example, to a medical specialist anywhere and then, like a satellite answering the instructions of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, follow doctor’s orders.
Add this “ipill” research to what is already going on with robotic surgery where the surgeon could be across the room, as they are now, or on the other side of the world.
This will soon be the new age of remote medicine: surgery, and then drug delivery.
As with any technology, we’ll have to figure out what makes sense for better health and is cost saving rather than just costly. But, as a patient, it immediately gave me hope that even more high-tech and interactive drug delivery could be a higher tier of targeted therapy, an approach that has already paid off for so many – including me.
As always, I invite your comments, suggestions and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you and your family the best of health,