See Inside Scientific American Volume 306, Issue 5

Tomorrow's Medicine

A look at some of the most promising medical devices now in development

Photographs by Dan Saelinger

Over the past few years researchers have taken advantage of unprecedented advances in biology, electronics and human genetics to develop an impressive new tool kit for protecting and improving human health. Sophisticated medical technology and complex data analysis are now on the verge of breaking free of their traditional confines in the hospital and computer lab and making their way into our daily lives.

Physicians of the future could use these tools to monitor patients and predict how they will respond to particular treatment plans based on their own unique physiology, rather than on the average response rates of large groups of people in clinical trials. Advances in computer chip miniaturization, bioengineering and material sciences are also laying the groundwork for new devices that can take the place of complex organs such as the eye or pancreas—or at least help them to function better.

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