The Future Of Veterinary Medicine6 min read
THE FUTURE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE UNVEILED
Very little has been written about the way veterinary medicine will look a century from now. That might seem reasonable since no one can predict the future. The future often comes sooner than we think. One of my favorite TV shows is “Star-Trek Next Generation”. It aired in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s. At that time there was no such thing as the internet. Personal computers were in their infancy. If you take a close look at many of the shows you will notice the little computer sitting on Captain Picard’s desk. What about the handheld medical device that Dr. Beverly Crusher and others held? This show is supposed to be the 24th century yet those imaginary devices shown in the show exist today. Laptops are so passe right now and everyone has a tablet so you can see that within 30 years we have developed tools that everyone thought would take eons to produce. Fantasy became reality in the blink of an eye. The future of veterinary medicine may be similar.
COMPUTER CHIP MEETS THE MAMMALIAN BODY
For numerous years now we have had the ability to finally get rid of dog tags. Those tended to get lost when a dog collar broke. Trying to figure out who the lost dog belonged to was made even more difficult since it is obvious that dogs cannot speak. The future of veterinary medicine is here now! Veterinarians can now inject chips that contain data on any pet. This data or just a simple number is kept in the microchip company’s database. A microchip that is embedded under a dog’s skin can be read by a special chip reader. The owner of the pet may then be hopefully tracked down.
These opinions are my own. They may come to pass, maybe not. I believe that chips with artificial intelligence will be embedded at birth in any animal. The chip will have the ability to prevent any genetic mutation from happening anywhere in the animal’s body. Think of the possibilities in the future of veterinary medicine. A lot of cancers are produced by cellular reproduction gone wild. All of this is based at the level of the cell. Billions of cells make up each organ. If a chip can prevent genetic mutations in the cell, it can prevent cancers! It might sound far fetched but it is a possibility.
That same artificial intelligence could be programmed to monitor blood sugars, thyroid levels, adrenal gland cortisol levels, parathyroid hormone levels and other endocrine diseases that require daily medications. Even under the best of circumstances the owners of dog and cat diabetics have to deal with blood sugars that go up and down like a yo yo! Someday this chip could be bound and connected to an implanted micro insulin pump that could monitor and correct blood glucose readings regardless of exercise or dietary foul ups. Insulin pumps exist for humans but a pet would rip it to shreds in a minute.
Other technological developments may develop from conquering the immune system. This is another approach to cancer. I was always fascinated with this concept. My undergraduate degree at Ohio State was in Microbiology and I took many courses in human immunology. The ability to develop and or engineer the use of antigens (the protein that causes allergies or other immunological problems) and antibodies to find answers to vexing problems is limitless. These latter compounds are sort of like an Indiana Jones that lives in the blood stream. They attack and affix to bad antigens and destroy them. I believe that this concept can be used to develop vaccines against all cancers that afflict mankind and their companion animals. A pipe dream? In our lifetime yes but do not give up on the future. The future of veterinary medicine is bright.
USING THE PAST TO DREAM UP THE FUTURE
To look at the future you have to look at the past and how it relates to present time. Veterinary medicine and human medicine have changed by leaps and bounds compared to 25 years ago. The first titanium hip transplant was performed on a dog at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Columbus, OH in the 1970’s. The procedure was then adapted to humans. The procedure today is as common as pulling a decayed tooth!
Research on cats has played an important role in helping cats and people. When I graduated from vet school in 1981 Feline Leukemia was wiping out cats left and right. To diagnose it we had to send blood to a lab in N.J. This was a 3 day turn around so the results took forever to get. An in house ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test was developed to diagnose the condition, within minutes, in any animal hospital across the country. This was the same technology that was later used to develop the human AIDS ELISA test. Both human Aids and Feline Leukemia are retroviruses. They are in the same family of viruses but cannot be transmitted between the two species. One small animal diagnostic test helped the human race. In 1983 Dr. Olson (I had the privilege of hearing him lecture at our county medical group.) developed the technology for the Feline Leukemia Vaccine at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. That vaccine has saved lives around the world in cat populations. The human retrovirus is a more complex virus than the cat version. Some day veterinary medicine may find the answers that will help prevent human AIDS.
The same thing can be said about Feline Hyperthyroidism. This disease was thought to not even exist in cats until veterinarians started tripping over it in 1991. It is now commonly diagnosed in medical practices today. It is readily treated with oral medications or radioactive isotopes and has saved countless cat lives thanks to the advancements in veterinary technology.
WE SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID OF THE FUTURE
I have never liked the status quo in anything in life. Life has to move forward. I just mentioned a few things that may come to fruition in the future. Other technologies that have not even been dreamed of yet will help push animal and human endurance to the limits of existence. Americans are the most innovative and “can do” people on the planet. Veterinarians will help to make that future happen.