Technology driving UCSF’s top health and science trends for 2015

Rejuvenating the elderly with young blood. Brain implants that cure addiction or depression. Treating cancer based on its molecular signature, rather than the tissue where it was found.

Such breakthroughs in medicine might sound like science fiction, but that research and more will actually be among the top health and science trends of 2015, thanks in large part to the advancement of technology, according to experts with UC San Francisco.

On the medical level, many trends boil down to technological improvements. For instance, UCSF scientists and physicians are leading a multi-institutional research project that could essentially find a cure for anxiety, depression and addiction by exploring whether brain implants ease the symptoms of such diseases.

The implants will also eventually allow amputees and patients with paralysis to directly control artificial limbs with brain signals, and better treat Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders, said Phillip Sabes, a professor of physiology with UCSF.

Research by UCSF fellow Saul Villeda and his team have also led to the discovery that infusions of young blood can stimulate the brains of older mice. Villeda's collaborators are now involved in a small clinical trial to test young blood on human Alzheimer's patients.

Trends also include ways to improve relationships between health facilities and patients.

Telemedicine, for instance, is becoming more and more prominent as hospitals upgrade technology to allow experts to consult with patients remotely. Virtual office visits, radiological readings and remote ICU monitoring are among such advances.

Scientists are also able to collaborate better than ever before thanks to technology, which allows for multidisciplinary team efforts. For instance, two recent studies of the genetics of autism involved 50 laboratories worldwide, including UCSF.

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