The official blog of the Lung Institute.
“Captain’s Log, Stardate 1502.10. The Enterprise is currently orbiting an unknown planet with the ruins of an ancient and long forgotten race. A local reconnaissance team has asked for our help in determining the origin of a rare infectious disease. Our mission, Dr. McCoy, Mr. Spock, and I will beam down to the planet’s surface in order to assess the extent of this medical condition and offer treatment if possible.”
In September 1966, the NBC television network released an iconic but short-lived series that would inspire generations of inventors and doctors to bring about the very technologies and medical treatments that we currently experience today. Once only deemed possible within the realms of science fiction, “Star Trek,” created by Gene Roddenberry, motivated viewers, young and old, to open their minds to a brave new world of technological possibilities.
For almost half a century, audiences have been captivated by the science behind the Star Trek universe, especially in the field of medicine. Although it’s only a television show, Star Trek’s famous doctor, Dr. McCoy, specialized in using modalities that had never been seen before by the viewing audience. Actors on the show were treated with lasers, injected with minimally invasive ‘hyposprays’ and given a variety of treatments to help create new skin tissue, reverse the effects on infectious diseases and even improve brain function. Fast forward 50 years and people are amazed by how much Star Trek has influenced the field of medicine.
Long ago, many people would have considered stem cell therapy to only be a marvel of science fiction. With extensive time and research, stem cell discoveries have shed new light on our ability to treat a variety of medical conditions like chronic lung diseases. These treatments are now being used by a clinic called the Lung Institute. According to their website at lunginstitute.com, they have treated over 500 patients. Using stem cells from the patient’s own fat, blood or bone marrow, the clinic is providing an alternative to patients living with a lung disease. The physician gives the patient a growth factor that multiplies the stem cells into millions of healthy cells before extracting the stem cells from the patient, then they separate the cells and reintroduce them into the patient’s body. From here, new healthy cells are created and continue to replicate to help promote improved lung function.
People of all ages watched Star Trek imagining what it would be like to experience 23rd century technology. Now, some of the science fiction-like remedies found in “Star Trek” are a reality. Stem cell developments are constantly evolving and if the number of people that have already been helped by stem cell treatments is any indication, it will continue to be defined as ground-breaking technology, and no longer one from the genre of science fiction.