It’s not unusual for science fiction concepts to influence real world science and technology. It’s well known and documented that the writers of Star Trek in particular have had an enormous impact on the world; the latest example of this is the Star Trek Padd, a conceptual forerunner of Apple’s iPad. It’s far less common for Star Wars to predict working technologies since so much of the technology in those worlds resembles magic more than science.
That’s all changed now with Nexagon, a sort of gene therapy gel with the consistency of tooth-paste that accelerates the natural healing process to roughly 6 times the normal rate. It bears a striking resemblance to the Star Wars bacta gel, the life-restorative substance Luke Skywalker floated in on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.
Nexagon works by interrupting the body’s production of certain proteins that can inhibit the healing process, allowing natural healing to proceed much faster than it usually would. It’s made from bits of DNA that shut off the production of the proteins that cause inflammation around a wound. “As that protein is turned off, cells move in to close the wound,” said David Becker, a professor of cell biology at London’s University College.
Early testing has proven highly successful, but they ARE just early tests; only about 100 people have received treatment with it so far. Early tests on leg ulcers showed a 5x higher rate of complete recovery after 4 weeks in those who received Nexagon treatment, compared to an average healing speed of 6 months with the possibility of reoccurence, without it.
In one respect, reality has managed to one-up science fiction; unlike Luke Skywalker, patients being treated with Nexagon won’t have to spend time floating in a tank of the stuff. Let’s hope more extensive trials are completed soon.