The world of medicine is constantly evolving and exciting discoveries are made every day, however due to popular culture and lack of interest in such scientific findings, they can often go unrecognised.
#1 Bugs in the Body
It may surprise you to know that the body is made up of around 8 million ‘alien bodies’; bacteria, viruses and other disease-producing agents (known as pathogens). Bizarre, considering that as a total organism we only have around 23,000 genes.
Due to the large number of pathogens within the human body this is fast becoming a popular area of study for medical research, such as the Human Microbiome Project, a comprehensive study in to what purposes these foreign bodies have.
Thankfully most of these invaders actually assist with our bodily processes, such as food digestion and fighting off disease. These antibodies, however, also play a major role in chronic diseases, and scientists are finding that study of the microbes might eventually lead to cures for many of our health problems.
#2 Grow your own Body Part
After a Baltimore man’s trachea became severely damaged due to the tragic results of cancer, he became the second person to receive a synthetic trachea. Swedish surgeons were the genius’ behind the trachea reconstruction, they made up a trachea replica out of microfibers and then dipped it in Christopher Lyles’ stem sell solution (derived from his bone marrow), which then grew to an exact trachea replacement for Lyles.
The Swedish surgeons are hoping as the trachea is made up of Lyles’ own stem cells his body will be less likely to reject the implant.
#3 Breast Cancer Simplified
A study carried out by The Cancer Genome Atlas, a government funded project, looked in to the genetic make-up of breast tumors and found that things may not be as complicated as initially thought.
Out of the 510 samples taken, there were around 30,000 mutations found, however these could be broken down in to four made sub-categories. The breakdown of the mutations in to four sub-categories could mean improved treatment and better understanding as breast cancer as a whole.
#4 Overcoming Paralysis
Medicine is breaking boundaries in many ways and overcoming paralysis is another amazing success story.
There are two schools of study which caught our attention, one by Milos Popovic, a biomedical engineer who has harnessed the use of ‘Functional Electric Stimulation’ (FES) therapy. This therapy sends ‘low intensity’ impulses to the arms and hands of quadriplegics; the procedure helps reprogram the nervous system, so that the brain and the spinal cord can send signals to the limbs. Patients reported that after two months of carrying out the FES therapy they were better able to ‘grasp and lift objects.’
Another spectacular study by BrainGate, helped a woman who has been paralyzed for 15 years, take a drink of her coffee unaided. A sensor has been planted in her brain since 2005 and scientist have analysed the electrical impulses, until she could move a robotic arm by thinking about it. The scientists are hoping with further research they will be able to create a wireless alternative that will also be able to control one’s own muscles.
#5 Heart Attack Prevention
We have all been told about the benefits of Omega-3, an essential fatty acid; however it has now been upgraded from ‘good for you’ to genuine heart medicine.
A review of four major studies carried out in 2009; found that Omega-3’s actually helped the highest heart risk patients. “These patients were already being vigorously treated with other therapies, and omega-3s lowered their risks even more.” Carl Lavie, MD, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans. He recommends around 800 – 1,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA a day for heart patients.