Please read the eye chart below out loud.
How’s your vision?
Today’s post is a chance to let one’s optimism and excitement about stem cells run a bit wild looking ahead not to next year, but 7 years ahead to the year 2020.
Can we make 20/20 (i.e. accurate) predictions for where the stem cell field will be that far down the road?
In my upcoming book (you can pre-order here at Amazon), Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide, I take a stab at some hopeful and sometimes geeky stem cell predictions as well, covering both positive and negative possibilities.
But in this particular blog post, I want to focus just on the positive. In a subsequent post, I will talk about remaining challenges & predicted problems even 7 years from now in the stem cell field.
I’ve give the stem cell crystal ball a try today with the positive predictions below.
I’m trying to be optimistic and hopeful without letting myself get too carried away with hype. Some of my predictions may not be fully realized in 7 years, but there may be great reasons for optimism by then about future successes in these areas. I also include some policy predictions.
- Some forms of acute spinal cord injury, with intervention within a few weeks with a stem cell-based therapy, will show signs in clinical trials of being partially reversible.
- Macular Degeneration will be routinely treated with stem cell-based therapies. The treatment will be safe and effective even if a bit expensive. The major cause of blindness will for the first time ever be able to be partially reversed. Will ES cell- or iPS cell-based therapies be further along in 7 years for treating blindness? I’m not sure. Today ES cell-based therapies are years ahead so they certainly have a head start. It’s possible that both ES and iPS cell therapies will have their roles for treating macular degeneration.
- Clinical trials will suggest that arthritis can be partially treatable with stem cells that will have been proven to effectively and safely regenerate cartilage.
- Stem cell-produced synthetic blood and blood products will be widely available. The military will start carrying “disposable” synthetic blood units into battle saving many lives of our men and women in the military.
- A drug that kills cancer stem cells specifically enter clinic trials, raising hope of dropping recurrence rates dramatically for some cancers in a totally new way.
- Diabetes will be partially controllable in some patients by stem cell-produced mini-pancreases in clinical trials.
- A stem cell-based ALS treatment will show signs in clinical trials of efficacy and raising hope of significantly extending lifespan and quality of life for patients.
- A stem cell-based Huntington’s Disease treatment will show signs of efficacy in clinical trials, for the first time providing real hope for these patients and their families.
- Replacement of entire organs will not be realized, but this approach to medicine will seem more realistic in the years following 2020.
- Several stem cell biotechs including Advanced Cell Technology (ACTC) and Osiris will be household names known to average Americans and other people around the world.
- In 2020, a much greater percentage of stem cell scientists will routinely hold meetings with and work with patients to advance stem cell-based treatments. Stem cell scientists will also more routinely advocate (both actions and words!) for evidence-based medicine, for patient safety, and for the field.
- Several major academic hospitals will offer formal physician training in cellular and stem cell-based regenerative medicine.
What are your predictions for stem cells 7 years from now? For example, do you think MS will be proven to be safely and effectively treated by stem cells? What about other diseases? What will be the top dog stem cell companies in 2020? Any other predictions?
Please post in the comments.