Medicine is a discipline of privilege to all of humankind. From removing ailments and curing diseases to extending the life expectancy, it has touched the lives of every human being on the planet, yet it seems insufficient. Perhaps, due to this inadequacy, and moreover, the prevalence of diseases and the emergence of new conditions have led to discover and develop new medical approaches to solve the problems of human illnesses. Thanks to modern science and technological innovations, the field of medicine is continuously flourishing.
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List of Latest Breakthroughs in Medicine
Here is, a brief highlight of some of the remarkable advancements in medicine this year.
1. PCSK9 Inhibitors For LDL Reduction
One of the greatest recent breakthroughs in medicine is the discovery of PCSK9 inhibitors to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the bad cholesterol because elevated levels of LDL in the blood is associated with increased risk of heart diseases and atherosclerosis. Proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) is an enzyme encoded by the PCSK9 gene in humans. PCSK9 binds to LDL receptors causing them to be degraded leading to an increased amount of LDL in blood, whereas PCSK9 inhibitors bind the PCSK9 proteins and inactivate them, thus LDL receptors remain intact. These receptors prevent LDL to remain in the blood and thus their levels decrease. Before this discovery, a statin was widely used to lower LDL but PCSK9 inhibitor in combination with a statin can decrease LDL level by as much as 75%.
2. The Artificial Pancreas
People with diabetes mellitus type 1 face a life-long optimization problem to maintain strict glycaemic control without increasing their risk of hypoglycemia. The artificial pancreas provides substitute endocrine functionality of pancreas for people with type 1 diabetes mellitus. It is rather a technology utilizing medical equipment that contains an embedded insulin pump to continuously monitor the blood glucose level. This insulin pump functions based on a computer-based algorithm under adaptive closed-loop control using real-time feedback data from a continuous glucose monitor and automatically pumps insulin. The first hybrid commercial artificial pancreas system is already approved and they are being tested under increasingly demanding conditions.
3. Surgical Superglue To Seal Your Skin
Scientists have developed a new type of sealant for reconnecting ruptured tissues after surgery. Called as MeTro (methacryloyl-substituted tropoelastin), it is an elastic hydrogel sealant produced by photocrosslinking the recombinant human protein tropoelastin. Unlike the commercially available surgical sealants, which often have low adhesion, inappropriate mechanical strength, cytotoxic nature and poor performance in biological environments, this new kind of superglue is biocompatible, with tunable adhesion properties and reduced toxicity. This can help repair the complications regarding tissue ruptures and the subsequent leakage during surgery or incisions. In the coming future, is expected to be an alternative to sutures and staples.
4. Contact Lenses To Monitor Blood Glucose
A team of researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and the Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea have developed a new kind of eye lenses to detect and monitor blood glucose level from tears in the eye. The lenses are incorporated with sensors which can then transmit signals through an embedded wireless antenna. The contacts are made up of transparent nanomaterials and do not obstruct the wearer’s vision. This will be of great help to people with diabetes as they’ll not be required to prick their finger or draw out blood every time just to measure their blood glucose level.
5. Reducing Toxicity In CAR-T Cell Therapy
CAR-T cell therapy uses T cells engineered with Chimeric Antigen Receptors to target specific tumor antigens. Although this therapy has been proved applicable in treating certain cancers, many limitations exist, some of them being the severe toxicities caused to the patients during therapy. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota have developed strategies to lower the toxicities by blocking GM-CSF (Granulocyte Macrophage-Colony Stimulating Factor), which is a cytokine produced by CAR-T cells and other cells and can stimulate the proliferation of a number of tumor cell lines. Another strategic approach is using CRISPR technology to generate CAR-T cells that do not secrete GM-CSF protein.
6. Virtual Reality To Reduce Pain
Virtual reality could be a new kind of medication, a digital medicine against pain and distress. Many types of research are being conducted to correlate virtual reality with pain reduction. With patients immersed in interactive virtual reality, either through VR goggles or other means, it causes distraction from painful stimuli and can decrease an individual’s perception of pain. Through clinical studies, it has been suggested that VR therapies could be highly effective to combat a variety of acute and chronic pain conditions. This includes fibromyalgia, phantom limb pain, and regional specific pain from past injuries and illnesses. While the widely used pain management techniques such as opioids and physical therapies are often ineffective or incomplete, VR trials have demonstrated a potential to redefine the approach to treating pain and eliminating stressful conditions.