Les promesses de la médecine de demain

Lors de la prochaine décennie, la recherche médicale va donner la priorité à une voie révolutionnaire, l'intégration des progrès en biologie, en science des matériaux, en chimie et en bioingénierie. Nous verrons apparaître une nouvelle génération d'outils médicaux et de moyens pour acheminer les molécules médicamenteuses vers leur cible. Le principal problème auquel vont être confrontés les chercheurs de ces diverses disciplines ne sera pas l'absence d'avancée scientifique, mais le manque de formation interdisciplinaire adéquate.

L'ingénierie tissulaire qui combine des cellules de mammifère (dont les cellules souches) avec des polymères pour créer de nouveaux tissus, voire un nouvel organe, aura un rôle essentiel. Ce domaine est d'autant plus important que près de la moitié des dépenses de santé est liée à une altération des tissus ou à une défaillance organique. La possibilité de développer de nouveaux organes - foie, moelle épinière, cœur, rein et bien d'autres tissus basés sur des organes - pourrait diminuer de manière spectaculaire la durée des hospitalisations, réduire les souffrances et prolonger la vie.

Certes, les défis sont énormes. Il faudra notamment trouver une source capable de produire assez rapidement une quantité suffisante de cellules différenciées. Les cellules souches pourraient jouer ce rôle, mais il faut réussir à contrôler leur différentiation et leur croissance et empêcher leur rejet par le système immunitaire.

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