Diagnostic medical technology veering into Star Trek galaxies

Chad Pelley is an author, songwriter and journalist whose debut novel, Away From Everywhere, has been adapted into a film now making the festival rounds. But he might never have become the celebrated artist he is today.

The 36-year-old resident of St. John’s has arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a rare heart disorder prevalent in Newfoundland and Labrador where the first and only symptom is often a fatal heart attack. Thanks to genome sequencing that identified the gene responsible for ARVC, Pelley was able to learn through a blood test that he has the disorder.

Today, he walks around with a defibrillator implanted under his skin on the left side of his chest. Should his heart suddenly falter or stop, the defibrillator will send an electrical pulse to start it beating again.

Pelley says his brother and father also have implants and both have had electrical pulses from their defibrillators. “Mine has never fired at me, but there are times when my heart does something very strange.”

The future of medicine has always seemed out there, as fantastical as Star Trek’s fictional “tricorders.” But in the realm of diagnostics, cutting-edge innovation is rapidly drawing this future within arm’s reach of today’s patients, professionals and health-care system.

In a triumph of science and high-performance computing, new technology now makes it possible for doctors to diagnose conditions with unprecedented accuracy, identify the probability of developing a disease based on genetic analysis, and tap into the wisdom of experts around the world.

By Marjo Johne | The Star

Image Credit: Figure 1

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