Where will medicine be in 2035?

An important determinant of “where medicine will be” in 2035 is the set of dynamics and forces behind healthcare delivery systems, including primarily the payment method, especially regarding reimbursement. It is clear that some form of reform in healthcare will result in a consolidation of the infrastructure paying for and managing patient populations. The infrastructure is bloated and expensive, unnecessarily adding to costs that neither the federal government nor individuals can sustain. This is not to say that I predict movement to a single payer system — that is just one perceived solution to the problem. There are far too many costs in healthcare that offer no benefits in terms of quality; indeed, such costs are a true impediment to quality. Funds that go to infrastructure (insurance companies and other intermediaries) and the demands they put on healthcare delivery work directly against quality of care. So, in the U.S., whether Obamacare persists (most likely) or is replaced with a single payer system, state administered healthcare (exchanges) or some other as-yet-unidentified form, there will be change in how healthcare is delivered from a cost/management perspective. 

From the clinical practice and technology side, there will be enormous changes to healthcare. Here are examples of what I see from tracking trends in clinical practice and medical technology development:

  • Cancer 5 year survival rates will, for many cancers, be well over 90%. Cancer will largely be transformed in most cases to chronic disease that can be effectively managed by surgery, immunology, chemotherapy and other interventions. Cancer and genomics, in particular, has been a lucrative study (see The Cancer Genome Atlas). Immunotherapy developments are also expected to be part of many oncology solutions. Cancer has been a tenacious foe, and remains one we will be fighting for a long time, but the fight will have changed from virtually incapacitating the patient to following protocols that keep cancer in check, if not cure/prevent it. 
  • Diabetes Type 1 (juvenile onset) will be managed in most patients by an “artificial pancreas”, a closed loop glucometer and insulin pump that will self-regulate blood glucose levels. OR, stem cell or other cell therapies may well achieve success in restoring normal insulin production and glucose metabolism in Type 1 patients. The odds are better that a practical, affordable artificial pancreas will developed than stem or other cell therapy, but both technologies are moving aggressively and will gain dramatic successes within 20 years.

Developments in the field of the “artificial pancreas” have recently gathered considerable pace, such that, by 2035, type 1 blood glucose management may be no more onerous than a house thermostat due to the sophistication and ease-of-use made possible with the closed loop, biofeedback capabilities of the integrated glucometer, insulin pump and the algorithms that drive it, but that will not be the end of the development of better options for type 1 diabetics. Cell therapy for type 1 diabetes, which may be readily achieved by one or more of a wide variety of cellular approaches and product forms (including cell/device hybrids) may well have progressed by 2035 to become another viable alternative for type 1 diabetics.

  • Diabetes Type 2 (adult onset) will be a significant problem governed by different dynamics than Type 1. A large body of evidence will exist that shows dramatically reduced incidence of Type 2 associated with obesity management (gastric bypass, satiety drugs, etc.) that will mitigate the growing prevalence of Type 2, but research into pharmacologic or other therapies may at best achieve only modest advances. The problem will reside in the complexity of different Type 2 manifestation, the late onset of the condition in patients who are resistant to the necessary changes in lifestyle and the global epidemic that will challenge dissemination of new technologies and clinical practices to third world populations.

Despite increasing levels of attention being raised to the burden of type 2 worldwide, including all its sequellae (vascular, retinal, kidney and other diseases), the pace of growth globally in type 2 is still such that it will represent a problem and target for pharma, biotech, medical device, and other disciplines.

  • Cell therapy and tissue engineering will offer an enormous number of solutions for conditions currently treated inadequately, if at all. Below is an illustration of the range of applications currently available or in development, a list that will expand (along with successes in each) over the next 20 years.

    Cell therapy will have deeply penetrated virtually every medical specialty by 2035. Most advanced will be those that target less complex tissues: bone, muscle, skin, and select internal organ tissues (e.g., bioengineered bladder, others). However, development will have also followed the money. Currently, development and use of conventional technologies in areas like cardiology, vascular, and neurology entails high expenditure that creates enormous investment incentive that will drive steady development of cell therapy and tissue engineering over the next 20 years, with the goal of better, long-term and/or less costly solutions.
  • Gene therapy will be an option for a majority of genetically-based diseases (especially inherited diseases) and will offer clinical options for non-inherited conditions. Advances in the analysis of inheritance and expression of genes will also enable advanced interventions to either ameliorate or actually preempt the onset of genetic disease.

    As the human genome is the engineering plans for the human body, it is a potential mother lode for the future of medicine, but it remains a complex set of plans to elucidate and exploit for the development of therapies. While genetically-based diseases may readily be addressed by gene therapies in 2035, the host of other diseases that do not have obvious genetic components will resist giving up easy gene therapy solutions. Then again, within 20 years a number of reasonable advances in understanding and intervention could open the gate to widespread “gene therapy” (in some sense) for a breadth of diseases and conditions –> Case in point, the recent emergence of the gene-editing technology, CRISPR, has set the stage for practical applications to correct genetically-based conditions.
  • Drug development will be dramatically more sophisticated, reducing the development time and cost while resulting in drugs that are far more clinically effective (and less prone to side effects). This arises from drug candidates being evaluated via distributed processing systems (or quantum computer systems) that can predict efficacy and side effect without need of expensive and exhaustive animal or human testing.The development of effective drugs will have been accelerated by both modeling systems and increases in our understanding of disease and trauma, including pharmacogenomics to predict drug response. It may not as readily follow that the costs will be reduced, something that may only happen as a result of policy decisions.
  • Most surgical procedures will achieve the ability to be virtually non-invasive. Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) will enable highly sophisticated surgery without ever making an abdominal or other (external) incision. Technologies like “gamma knife” and similar will have the ability to destroy tumors or ablate pathological tissue via completely external, energy-based systems.

    By 2035, technologies such as these will measurably reduce inpatient stays, on a per capita basis, since a significant reason for overnight stays is the trauma requiring recovery, and eliminating trauma is a major goal and advantage of minimally invasive technologies (e.g., especially the NOTES technology platform). A wide range of other technologies (e.g., gamma knife, minimally invasive surgery/intervention, etc.) across multiple categories (device, biotech, pharma) will also have emerged and succeeded in the market by producing therapeutic benefit while minimizing or eliminating collateral damage.

Information technology will radically improve patient management. Very sophisticated electronic patient records will dramatically improve patient care via reduction of contraindications, predictive systems to proactively manage disease and disease risk, and greatly improve the decision-making of physicians tasked with diagnosing and treating patients.There are few technical hurdles to the advancement of information technology in medicine, but even in 2035, infotech is very likely to still be facing real hurdles in its use as a result of the reluctance in healthcare to give up legacy systems and the inertia against change, despite the benefits.

  • Personalized medicine. Perfect matches between a condition and its treatment are the goal of personalized medicine, since patient-to-patient variation can reduce the efficacy of off-the-shelf treatment. The thinking behind gender-specific joint replacement has led to custom-printed 3D implants. The use of personalized medicine will also be manifested by testing to reveal potential emerging diseases or conditions, whose symptoms may be ameliorated or prevented by intervention before onset.
  • Systems biology will underlie the biology of most future medical advances in the next 20 years. Systems biology is a discipline focused on an integrated understanding of cell biology, physiology, genetics, chemistry, and a wide range of other individual medical and scientific disciplines. It represents an implicit recognition of an organism as an embodiment of multiple, interdependent organ systems and its processes, such that both pathology and wellness are understood from the perspective of the sum total of both the problem and the impact of possible solutions.This orientation will be intrinsic to the development of medical technologies, and will increasingly be represented by clinical trials that throw a much wider and longer-term net around relevant data, staff expertise encompassing more medical/scientific disciplines, and unforeseen solutions that present themselves as a result of this approach.Other technologies being developed aggressively now will have an impact over the next twenty years, including medical/surgical robots (or even biobots), neurotechnologies to diagnose, monitor, and treat a wide range of conditions (e.g., spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.).

The breadth and depth of advances in medicine over the next 20 years will be extraordinary, since many doors have been recently opened as a result of advances in genetics, cell biology, materials science, systems biology and others — with the collective advances further stimulating both learning and new product development. 


See the 2016 report #290, “Worldwide Markets for Medical and Surgical Sealants, Glues, and Hemostats, 2015-2022.”

Steady growth in wound management products

Wound management, with its diverse products, well established base and growth prospects, not only for the advanced product segments but also for its tradiitional products, is an attractive area for medical technologies, drawing many active market participants.

The need for effective and improved technologies for acute and chronic wounds continues to be high, driven by the demographics of the aging population, the increasing sensitivity of healthcare systems to high costs such as chronic wounds and other forces.  The industry has responded by developing and introducing more complex types of wound products focused on shortening wound healing times and costs.

The largest single category of wound management products is already in physical wound management, encompassing negative pressure wound therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation, electromagnetic stimulation, ultrasound, laser and others.  This category will also demonstrate some of greatest growth in wound management over the next several years. Other areas of significant growth include the use of growth factors, and foam and alginate dressings.

Illustrated is the global wound management market by product segment for 2008 and 2017.

Wound-by-segment-2008-2017

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S247.

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Sutures, staples, clips and other wound closure still active in development

See the updated, published 2012 Report #S190, “Surgical Sealants, Glues, Sutures, Other Wound Closure and Anti-Adhesion, Worldwide Markets, 2012-2017.”

In our analyses of the market for surgical sealant, glues, wound closure, hemostasis and ant-adhesion products (Report #S180), we highlight that a major force in the development of these new products is in manufacturers driving innovation to enable the products to displace traditional wound closure products, especially sutures, staples and clips.

Given the size of this “mechanical closure” market, at over $5 billion annually, manufacturers in this space are not idly standing by while novel wound closure technologies poach their caseload.  A healthy number of companies are actively developing and marketing novel wound closure products that still fall in this traditional category of wound closure:

Source: MedMarket Diligence, LLC; Report #S180.

 

Companies represented here (many involved in development of multiple wound closure product types) include: 3M, Abbott Vascular, Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, ArthroCare , B. Braun/Aesculap, BSN Medical, Cardiva Medical, Covidien, CSMG Technologies (Live Tissue Connect), Incisive Surgical, Innovasa, Johnson & Johnson (Ethicon), Kinetic Concepts, Morris Innovative, NeatStitch, Resorba, St. Jude Medical, Synovis Life Technologies, Teleflex Medical, Wound Care Technologies, and Zimmer.

This does not include the companies active in the area of medical/surgical tapes in a range of types; fabric, film, island, bandage, impregnated and others.

Biologics in the Treatment of Spine Disorders and Trauma

The bone graft and bone substitute market has grown at a solid rate since 2000, and, despite current economic restrictions, will continue to grow throughout the forecast period. Some of the drivers of this market include the need to increase fusion rates, growth in spine fusion procedure volumes, an increased number of bone products, and the introduction of growth factors. The aggregate date below represents sales from 2010 to 2020 of allografts, demineralized bone matrix (DBM) and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) in treatment of spine-related disorders and trauma.

Prices are under pressure and declining, but demand is still positive and driving growth.

Source: Worldwide Spine Surgery: Products, Technologies, Markets and Opportunities 2010-2020 (July 2011).

Seaweed-based gel scaffold for heart repair draws $282.5 million license deal

Israeli comapny BioLineRx has licensed a seaweed-based gel, BL-1040, to New Jersey-based Ikaria Holdings in a $282.5 million licensing deal.

The compound, when injected into the heart following an initial heart attack, forms a gel scaffold that protects the heart from subsequent attack by increasing the heart muscle tissue’s mechanical strength and enhancing its ability to recover and repair.

See also.


See advanced medical technology blog coverage of cardiology.