Breakthroughs. That’s the stuff that progress in the field of medicine are made of. Otherwise, the human race would probably be back to where it started, or wouldn’t even exist at all. This is all thanks to medical science, nursing, and other fields. This is a collection of the 10 biggest and most recent medical breakthroughs.
1. No more gene junk
There was a time in the not too distant past when scientists thought that DNA was made of genes, which was held together by, well, junk. Gene junk. Not anymore. Not only do these little pieces of the DNA strand keep genes from flying off, it turns out they’re not junk either. The truth is, they’re the masterminds behind practically everything that genes do. And if mother nature delivers on what modern medicine is saying, these little connectors might be able to be controlled and switched on and off to alter things when they go astray. So much for junk.
2. Good bugs
There’s a good chance that if someone told you that your body was infested with bugs, you might want to call the Orkin man. Relax. These bugs are not only good for us, but they actually outnumber everything else in our bodies. They’re called microbes, and a project called the Human Microbiome Project is studying what these little guys do and how they work. As it turns out, they might have a lot to do with everything from disease to obesity, and might unlock the secrets to why we suffer from these problems and many more.
3. Preventable HIV?
It seems like we have been fighting AIDS and HIV for years, but only recently have scientists started to get a handle on what might be effective treatments against these issues. One of the most promising thus far is Truvada, a drug that is a combination of two anti viral drugs that are showing promise in the fight against HIV. In response to recent scientific discoveries it seems that when taken by healthy people Truvada significantly reduces the chances that they will become infected with the virus. Critics say that the drug and its promises will only lead to an increase in high risk behavior, but proponents say that the supposed decrease of 42 percent to 75 percent is one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in years.
4. Lab Grown Body Parts
It might sound like something out of Frankenstein, but growing body parts that are in need of replacement might be the next best thing when what you need is not often on the re3placement list. This is the case with one patient at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute when they needed a replacement trachea for one destroyed by cancer. Using a trachea from a donor, doctors created a new trachea made of stem cells built around the donor’s which functioned as a scaffolding. It’s hard to tell where this technology will take us, but recent scientific discoveries show it has potential that is practically limitless.
5. New Hope for Reversing Autism
There are some medical problems that, if you nip them in the bud, they can be treated much more effectively. Such, many researchers say, is the situation with autism. The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is an example of reaching out to children with autism, ages 12 to 48 months, to reverse the effects using intervention therapy that teaches skills. All of this seems to be too good to be true, but according to the study sponsors, it is. Not only that, but according to several scientists children as young as 18 months are deriving benefits from the work.
A huge benefit of the program is that it can be delivered be practically anyone who is familiar with the study. Nursing staff, psychologists, and occupational therapists are just among many who can help with the delivery of the model. Certification is as simple as showing a clinic member that the practitioner follows approved methods of the center.
6. Mapping a Course to Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is a complex disease, with varying influences from genes to lifestyle, but a new program called The Cancer Genome Atlas, funded by the government, is providing a map to solving the breast cancer riddle and is proving to be a lot simpler than originally thought. Not only is it proving keys to breast cancer, but early results are providing clues to ovarian cancer too.
7. DNA Sequencing for Newborns
In more than 30 percent of newborns who are admitted to neonatal intensive care units, there are genetic problems. Now, thanks to computer analysis, newborns can have the results of their genetic analysis in less than 48 hours, which can make all the difference in the world to a critically ill baby.
8. Thwarting Childhood Tumors
Understanding the genetic sequencing of tumors might give doctors what they need to destroy those tumors, especially in children. That’s the goal of the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, a three-year, $65 million effort to not only map childhood cancers in an effort to development treatments, but to also study possible links with cancers that affect everyone at every stage of life.
9. Stem Cell Eggs
Recently concluded studies by Japanese scientists have given infertile couples hope in the form of stem cells, which have been shown to create pups in mice. Scientists at Kyoto University created healthy mouse sperm in the lab using day old embryos and those from adult mice. After creating eggs the scientists fertilized the eggs and produced the first litter of pups, giving hope to many.
10. Zit Zappers
For how long have teenagers and maybe others gone to school with crater sized blemishes on their faces, the bane of their existences? But now scientists are developing cremes that are created with viruses that are not only taken from viruses that cause zits, but are derived from those very same viruses. And since these blemishes are located deep in the pores of the skin, scientists believe that the zit zapping viruses that they can inject combined with cremes made from the same viruses but applied by the patient, zits might finally be a thing of the past. So when parents warn their school aged children that they need to wash their faces to prevent zits, kids can finally reply, “What’s a zit?”
Understandably, this list is not exhaustive, but gives a real glimpse into what seems to be a constant march of medical breakthroughs that occur almost every day.