Recently, 10 top Australian researchers have predicted what they hope to be medical breakthroughs of the future.
According to them, gene profiling will transform the way patients are treated, within a period of ten years.
"This new technology means consumers will have little choice but to take preventive action when faced with proof their lives might be at risk, " says John Shine, the executive director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. "You will be able to take a blood test and say, 'You are the one who will have a heart attack unless you reduce cholesterol and change your lifestyle.' "
According to their prediction, in 10 years' time, wrong combination of genes could be repaired to prevent disease; new body parts could be grown to replace the damaged ones and injured spinal columns could be repaired by rewiring the nerves.
"Genetics would also lead to new treatments for obesity and diabetes, " Professor Shine said.
"We all know that diet and exercise are very important. The next step is to tackle the genetic part of that jigsaw - it won't be a panacea for obesity but ... it will make a huge difference."
Last week, researchers announced the finding of a new marker to detect the destructive prostate cancer.
"The discovery would allow the development of individual treatment plans tailored to the level of aggression of the disease, " he said.
Human genome mapping and stem cell research have the greatest potential in developing ways to prevent and treat diseases. Thus, humanity is not reduced to a genetic sequence.
Research Australia compiled the report, 'Then, Now ... Imagine', which is being released today. It comprises the technological innovations from the polio vaccine to treatments for bipolar disorder, the development of microsurgery and the discovery of DNA.
The five predictions are:
· New body parts for those with diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
· Drugs to target cancer at the source.
· New vaccines for HIV, hepatitis C and type 1 diabetes.
· New nerve pathways to rewire damaged spinal columns and stimulate nerve regrowth.
· Operating before birth to correct abnormalities.