The “bio” in biomedical refers to the biological sciences. Since the discovery of proteins and subsequently the genetic molecules of cells, the biological sciences have become one of the most diverse and richest areas of modern science.
In the last three quarters of the twentieth century, biological scientists made many important groundbreaking discoveries that subsequently led medical educators to include these discoveries into their medical training curriculum. This was important in order to maintain the education of future doctors and PhD candidates as applicable as possible to the most recent treatments of medical illnesses. It was also important in furthering the general understanding of human-biological function in health and disease. Hence the term “biomedical” was coined to recognize this process of transferring relevant biological discoveries toward the treatment and understanding of medical conditions.
This has led to a boom in medical discovery and treatment for a wide range of diseases within the last half century. Even the genetic diseases that were previously considered not treatable are now within the sites of several new biotechnology and medical treatments. This has also improved the basic understanding of how traditional drug treatments work on the fundamental biological levels, which in turn has sparked renewed research into how drugs and ancillary molecules can be used to modulate receptor responses with new combination drug therapies.
New discoveries in the biomedical sciences are continuing to push the frontiers of possible medical therapies forward. Genome and RNA manipulation allow for the alteration of the internal genetic expression of cells and tissues. This allows biomedical scientists to change the genetic expression of a cell’s basic genetic code and may pave the way toward the future treatment of genetic diseases. In addition, the targeting of intracellular molecular and signal transduction pathways opens up a panoply of treatments for a wide variety of syndromes and medical maladies. This is currently referred to as a systems biology approach. The systems biology approach coupled with increasing insights into how our traditional drugs affect these biological systems may pave the way to the creation of safer and more effective pharmaceutical therapies for everyone.
The price of this biomedical research is funded by both public and private funds. The government mostly through NIH funding and private funding through the biotechnology and pharmaceutical research and development initiatives largely account for the bulk of the billions of dollars spent each year on extending important biological discoveries into the medical realm. Although the price for this boom is great, we are poised to enter a new era of scientific breakthroughs and discoveries that herald a truly enlightened approach to treating disease.