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Software will replace drugs in the future, says leading health expert at Dubai Future Forum

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Cancer, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases could be diagnosed and cured by software instead of drugs in the not-too-distant future, a leading health expert told the Dubai Future Forum 2023.

Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen, CEO and Founder and Chairwoman of Openwater, said in a keynote titled ‘The Silicon Hospital: Revolutionising Disease Diagnosis and Cure’, that the rapid development of technologies is “transforming the course of human health.”

Addressing the world’s largest gathering of futurists, Jepsen described how sonification in healthcare is already being used to great effect. It is already diagnosing strokes within just a couple of hours, turning off over-firing neurons to combat severe depression, and targeting cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.

A health system dominated by technological innovation “is very close,” Jepsen said, adding: “It’s not a dream”.

“New devices and semiconductor chips, cutting edge technologies, can enable better diagnoses and treatment for all.”

Drugs typically cost around USD $2 billion and take around two decades to develop and bring to market. Whereas technologies such as chips and semiconductors can already be produced at scale. Similarly, the use of light and sound in therapy requires less regulatory scrutiny, meaning it can be adopted more quickly in healthcare systems.

Calling for technologists and healthcare professionals to “go after every disease”, Jepsen said: “We’ve all grown up in a semiconductor and software revolution. This could be a better way to get better healthcare outcomes globally and faster. Let’s do this faster, let’s create solutions and let’s do it now.”