In recent years, with the advancement of science and technology, there are a lot of initiatives being taken to discover and create new ways to advance the existing treatment and prevention options. Numerous innovations and solutions ranging from nanotech medication to organ transplantation have improved health care drastically, now saving more lives than ever. This development continues to grow.
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Medical Breakthroughs 2019
Below is a list of some interesting recent advances in medical science, which will change the medical industry drastically.
Functional Hair Follicles from Stem Cells
About 50% of men and 25% of women experience partial to full baldness by the age of 50 due to age, medical treatments, or genetic makeup. Until now, reversing the loss of hair was limited to a healthy diet, hair treatments, medications, and transplants from other parts of the body. None of those above methods restore the desire for luscious hair.
A cure for this is now on the horizon after scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys have created natural-looking hair that grows through the skin using stem cells. Before this, scientists from Japan had tried culturing hair follicles using a 3D oxygen chip (a polymer structure to grow follicles). Although this increased hair follicle’s yield, the tests for this was done on immunodeficient mice, which means that every individual would need his/her own set of follicles being designed.
The scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys coaxed pluripotent cells into dermal papilla (cells that control hair growth, including hair thickness, length, and growth cycle.). The dermal papilla is not easily available, but the use of stem cells has created an unlimited source for these follicles to be transplanted. Taking cells directly from the transplant patient reduces the risk of rejection by a significant amount. Scientists are hopeful that in the future, they will be able to take a blood sample from a patient, isolate their stem cells and coax them to become huge amounts of dermal papilla cells before injecting them directly into the head, where they will embed and grow.
Improving Memory With Surgically Installed Chip
A new microchip is now helping to boost memory of about a handful of patients by about 37 %. Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (U Penn) and the Mayo Clinic have been testing this technology to stimulate brain areas and improve a person’s cognitive skills and memory.
For the first time, researchers have shown that it is not only possible to suppress electrical misfires in the brain but also enhance the brain’s ability to encode and retrieve new information. This is done by understanding how the brain stores information. To form memories, neurons fire in a specific way, which is different for different information. The chip uses this principle, recognizes and boosts signals which improve memory and cognitive skills.
The chip has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and is limited to clinical trials only, but Nia Therapeutics Inc is already working to commercialize this technology, which will reduce the intensive surgery and might help to treat diseases like epilepsy, Alzheimer, and stroke.
Using artificial intelligence to deliver personalized radiation therapy
AI can help to personalize the dose of radiation to treat cancer patients based on their medical reports. This technology centers around an artificial neural network built with a large dataset of patients receiving lung radiotherapy. By using this technology, each clinical center can utilize CT databases to customize and tailor the radiation concentration and area.
Currently, radiation therapy is delivered throughout the body uniformly and does not vary on the diverse types of tumors or individual factors that affect the treatment. This new AI framework, which accounts for all of these variables, therefore, can reduce the radiotherapy failure probability to less than five percent.
This image-based information processing AI uses an artificial neural network that merges classical machines with the power of a modern neural network. It has the ability to individualize multiple cancer therapies, and more immediately is a leap forward in radiation precision medicine.
The vaccine to eradicate HPV
Dr. Harper, a professor of family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, is studying a therapy that she hopes will wipe out cervical cancer by eliminating the HPV virus that can cause it.HPV is a sexually transmitted infection but can also be transmitted by skin to skin contact, and some of its types are linked to cancer.
The results of an immunization program introduce 10 years ago has yielded results exceeding expectations. Researchers said the vaccine has nearly wiped out cases of cervical pre-cancer in young women. They found the vaccine had led to a 90% cut in pre-cancerous cells.
The vaccine is a protein that activated the immune system to go in and find cells that are affected by HPV or the cells that have started to change because of HPV and attach them. By clearing out the body with HPV, the risk of cervical cancer is greatly reduced. Although further clinical trials are required before bringing it out in the open, Scotland has been giving preteens and has now planned to start giving it to males too in the hope of wiping out cervical cancer.
How does the immune system know when it’s under attack?
The enzyme named ”C-gas” has been recognized as the enzyme which alerts the immune system when it finds DNA in the cytoplasm of the cell. The CGAS can be seen as a motion sensor, but this enzyme senses the presence of any type of DNA. When this enzyme senses DNA that might have leaked out of the cell’s mitochondria or nucleus, the immune system is activated, which is the cause of autoimmune diseases.
Discovery of this pathway by which cells recognize and respond will help fight various infections opens the door for new therapeutic approaches for a broad range of diseases from infectious agents like influenza to Ebola to autoimmune diseases and cancer.
In the case of autoimmune diseases, the direction for the creation of medicines based on this would be finding inhibitors to block the pathway, but for cancer, it would be finding ways to activate the pathway.