It would not be out of place to say that the future has come upon us all. Before the emergence of the 21st Century science and technological advancements were considerably slower.
But with the emergence of the new century—most notably the last decade—scientific discoveries coupled with the way technologic has festered deep into every sector, we have seen the progress that our ancestors could only dream of driverless cars, AI, smartphones, drones etc.
The medical sector has experienced some significant advancement in medical research, public policy, quality of life, and even disease treatment and control. Medical devices have become smaller, smarter and faster, making the practice of medical considerably easy for doctors. The internet has turned the world to a global village, making communication between patients and medical personnel easy. Online appointments and online doctor visit are now a thing.
Yet, it is easy for people to downplay these medical advancements, seeing that most of them didn’t amass a huge following and was not brought to the fore. It is easy to lose sight of the medical devices that have saved our lives countless times.
That is what we have culled up the ways that medical science has advanced and inadvertently saved our lives in recent times.
This is the process of altering a person’s Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) to treat a disease, rather than just treating the symptoms as some drugs are wont to do.
It is lauded as one of the most exciting discoveries in recent time. Gene therapy can be used to cure blood cancers like leukemia. Recent experiments have also shown that it has the potential to cure breast cancer. There are speculations that gene therapy would one day replace conventional surgery, chemotherapy, or even radiation.
In 2017, gene therapy rose to prominence when it was used to cure a teenager with sickle cell disease. Since then, gene therapy has also been used to restore sights to several patients suffering from retinal disease. Also, its application has been channeled towards improving the blood-clotting proteins in patients going through hemophilia.
There have been developments There have been speculations that if gene therapy can be applied to treat cell depletion and muscle mass, then it has every potential to slow aging.
3D body parts printing.
While 3D printing is a game-changer for manufacturing industries, little is well known in its usage in medical research. For one, scientists have used the technology to create human parts.
In 2013, researchers from Cornell University used the process to print human ears that looked and felt like the real deal. Blood vessels have been produced using similar process by researchers from MIT and University of Pennsylvania.
It is noteworthy to point out that skin cell has been successfully printed by a team of researchers at Wake University, North Carolina, to be placed on wounds.
Other applications of 3D printing include: printing of hearing aids, orthodontic appliances and even less-expensive prosthetics for landmine injuries.
Organovo, a San Diego company, has further speculated that by 2020, a partial liver transplant will be produced.
The world’s first closed loop, the brain responsive neuromodulation system was developed in 2013 by NeuroPace.
Its job was to detect unusual activity in the brain and sends electrical pulses before a seizure can occur. The benefit of this system is that patients will suffer less seizure throughout their lifetime, and doctors will be able to review brain activity.
One of the leading causes of blindness in the world is cataracts. Treatments options that were available were limited to replacing the clouded lens with an artificial one.
But a team of researchers from the University of California has developed a non-surgical operation that eliminates cataracts with the use of eye drops. The researchers disclosed that they discovered two sterols: lanosterol and compound 29 out of over 2,000 different chemicals.
Preparation is underway to start transporting this new cure for cataracts to developing countries where access to cataract treatment is unavailable.
People who are suffering from blindness have now received hope, as an artificial eye had been designed. Created by the Second Sight, a California based company, the bionic eye uses camera which is affixed to the patients’ glasses. This particular camera then transmits electro signals to the retinal implant in the user.
While normal vision has not been fully actualized, the bionic eye is proven to enable to receive a significant degree of vision. Some patients can even testify that they can see color.
In 2016, an Australian company, Bionic Vision Technologies was given $23.5million to begin intensive design of a new bionic eye. From all indications, trials will begin soon.
Medical researchers have seen some breakthroughs in the discovery of cancer fingerprinting. Cancer fingerprinting usually deals with analyzing specific cases of cancer and their reaction to different treatments.
This is amazing because doctors can now properly analyze the mutated gene of tumors, and figure out they’d react to different chemotherapy treatments.
There have also been advancements made in immunotherapy, which fights cancer by improving the immune system, instead of undergoing surgery or chemotherapy to remove a tumor in the system.
Although not widely used in chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapy, immunotherapy has been approved by regulatory bodies to treat patients with cancer.
Treatments for cluster headaches.
Cluster headaches are much more intense than a migraine. They are known to occur more than 5 times a day, lasting for weeks and even months.
Fortunately, researchers from Cleveland Clinic have gotten closer in figuring out an effective cure.
Their research involved successfully implanting a device behind the upper jaw of the patient. The device sends signals to the brain and reduces the impact of blinding pain. The device can even be operated by a remote.
In conclusion, these medical advancements outlined above shows how much science and technologic has helped paved the way for a better future for the next generation. Retrospectively, it also shows how much more we can achieve if we all work together.