There are many challenges in human health, from combatting infectious diseases to supporting healthy ageing. Better health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more. Thanks to advances in medicine, HIV sufferers can now have a near-normal life expectancy, and the UK cancer survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years. Improvements like these depend heavily upon Chemistry.
There are still many health issues that need to be addressed. Cancer is still the leading cause of death globally, and antimicrobial resistance is on the rise. Almost half of the world’s population are estimated to be at risk of malaria and anti-malarial resistant parasites are beginning to emerge. It is estimated that 1% of the world’s gross domestic product is spent every year on the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and the number of people living with dementia is expected to double by 2030. The chemical sciences will be crucial in addressing these challenges and many more.
What role do Chemistry researchers play in improving and maintaining health?
There are several areas of chemistry research that are linked with health applications. Analytical chemistry techniques are being developed in order to detect and reduce airborne pathogens, whilst many chemists are developing molecular sensors for diagnosis. Developing new, more sensitive, non-invasive, methods to diagnose patients earlier, is key to improving health. Chemistry is also drives drug-discovery, in search of cures for disease, and addressing the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance. Another area of chemistry research revolves around the development of new materials for medical devices, such as implants.
Take a look at the research by Dr Chris Tselepis , Professor Jim Tucker, and Dr John Fossey in our experiments section, relating to health, by developing drugs for cancer prevention and sensors for genetic disorders. Other ChemBam experiments relating to healthcare technologies include our ‘gold standards for sensing‘ and ‘DNA barcodes for healthcare‘.
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