There has been an unprecedented development in the many fields of medicine in the 21st century. Such progress has only snowballed faster this year and will continue to do so in the upcoming one.
But before we look forward into the future of health sciences, let us look back to 2014’s medical advances and see how far humanity has come from medicine for cough and colds.
New heart disease biomarker
Doctors have used enzymes as well as other substances produced by the body to detect diseases. These are called biomarkers. And this year, joining the already impressive list of cardiac biomarkers is trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This biomarker is produced when your gut flora digests choline, a substance commonly found in egg yolks, red meat, and dairy. Choline is also linked to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, and can lead to a handful of deadly heart diseases. Through the detection of TMAO, doctors can now provide the right prevention and treatment for many patients with cardiac conditions.
Intravenous drug for acute heart failure
Acute heart failure is one of the leading causes of cardiac-related deaths. Unfortunately, there were no pharmaceutical treatment for this particular disease. Then came seralaxin. A synthetic version of the hormone human relaxin-2, seralaxin is infused over a 48-hour period right after an episode of heart failure or heart attack. The drug improves the blood flow of the entire body and acts as an anti-inflammatory, preventing damage heart failure causes to the kidneys, liver, and the heart itself.
Organ transplants have long been a possibility. Now, thanks to today’s technology, doctors are finally capable of transplanting microorganisms. This procedure, known as fecal microbiota transplantation, involves the gathering of normal microbiota from a donor. The microorganisms are put in a liquid suspension and then infused to a recipient. This is done to treat the donee’s colorectal disease, especially deadly cases of Clostridium difficile infections and inflammatory bowel disease.
“The Bionic Eye”
Despite its moniker, the bionic eye, or more correctly known as retinal prosthesis, neither restores nor improves vision. However, it is a nevertheless a great help for those who have suffered blinding retinal damage and retinal pigmentosa, as it replaces degenerated retinal cells and allows patients to pick up and interpret light patterns. This, although in a lesser state, gives the patient a renewed sense of sight.
Targeted Cancer Therapy
There have been many cancer cases who have been successfully treated by chemotherapy. However, the procedure involves a lot of side effects, and most of them are just as debilitating, if not more, than the set of symptoms the disease causes. This is because chemotherapy damages both cancer and non-cancer cells. Thankfully, a targeted cancer therapy, which specifically attacks cancer cells, has been devised. Basically, this is chemotherapy without the problems it brings. And now, with ibrutinib, an oral targeted cancer therapy drug, chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients finally have a cure without the problems.
If impressive advances in medicine have occurred during the past year, then we can expect even more impressive ones in 2015. Truly, there’s no better time to be alive than now.