Life sciences include any research field that pertains to human life and health. The developments within these fields are essential for improving our quality of life and maintaining a long life expectancy. Our modern healthcare system is highly advanced but only reached this level of care after centuries of development. Within the last one hundred years, advances in healthcare have been tremendous, from launching pharmaceuticals to developing advances in medical engineering. All of these creations were essential building blocks to the modern treatments we have today. Here are a few examples of crucial historical moments in the history of life sciences that have helped us improve our quality of care and develop our modern healthcare industry.
The development of modern pharmaceuticals did not begin until the early 1900s. A cure for syphilis was accidentally discovered in 1909 by Paul Ehrlich. This treatment was a huge success and was just the first of a series of discoveries about bacteria, viruses, and our immune systems. The use of insulin in 1922 was essential in treating diabetes, and penicillin was another significant development in the fight against deadly diseases that we previously believed to be incurable and untreatable. During this time, researchers began to understand better how the human immune system works and how we can fight off infections and diseases biologically. Foundational research during this time would lead to the development of vaccines and other essential drugs.
Developments in the field of medical engineering are essential for improving the quality of care and life for many living with chronic conditions worldwide. The creation of the cardiovascular pacemaker was one of the most important inventions of this period. Cardiovascular pacemakers are essential medical devices used for many with heart conditions today. Original pacemakers used an out-of-body hand crank to remain functional. Medical engineering is a crucial field that must develop alongside pharmaceuticals and other healthcare fields to help improve quality of life and care. This period from the mid-1900s onward shows continuous development and research in medical engineering and bioengineering. Medical engineering is essential for many of the devices used in hospitals today, from IVs to heart rate monitors and much more.
The COVID Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic spread rapidly across the globe, spurring a wave of vaccine research and development at an unprecedented rate. While typically, it may take years to develop an effective vaccine, with modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, several COVID vaccines were created within a year. The use of messenger RNA in vaccine development was not new. mRNA technology had been used to treat melanoma years prior successfully. Regarding the COVID vaccine development, mRNA solutions were highly effective and essential. According to Avantor, “mRNA vaccine technology works by introducing a piece of the virus’ mRNA to the body and allowing the immune system to produce antibodies without exposing the patient to the virus itself.” The COVID pandemic not only showed the importance of this new vaccination technology but also revealed the challenges facing our healthcare industry regarding remote accessibility, distribution, and pandemic response. Though our modern healthcare system is more effective than ever, improvements can still be made.
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving and improving, with new technologies and treatments being continuously developed. As new pathogens and more complex medical challenges arise, researchers will continue to depend on the foundations of life sciences to improve treatments and quality of care for all.