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After a roller-coaster ride of hype and disappointment, the decades-long effort to cure diseases by repairing or replacing faulty genes is starting to yield useful treatments. Diseases that have defied treatment could be reversed by a one-time fix to a faulty gene.
The digital world is already crucial to the functioning of society, but the revolution is far from over. As the underlying technology becomes more sophisticated and pervasive, society will surely feel its impact in new and unexpected ways.
Each year, more than 400,000 people worldwide develop tumours of the lymphatic system (lymphoma), and around half that number die from the disease. Better treatments are especially being sought for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — the incidence of which is climbing but for which successful treatments are elusive.
Brain cancer is one of the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat malignancies. Moreover, in the almost 50 years since the start of the war on cancer, the prospects for people who develop brain cancer have improved much more slowly than those of individuals with other types of cancer.
There is fresh hope for treating Huntington’s disease, an inherited neurodegenerative condition that causes uncontrollable movements, emotional disturbance and the loss of mental abilities. But biological mysteries remain.
Modern medicine is affording people longer and healthier lives. But researchers want to take improvements in health even further. With advances in gene editing, technology to overcome paralysis and efforts to address high drug costs, the future of medicine is bright.