More health and medical discoveries are being made every year and 2015 was no exception. Here are the top 10 from Wellcast:
10. Dengue Virus Vaccine- Dengue is a virus that is transmitted to humans from the bite of a Aedes Aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten a person with the Dengue virus. It is currently the fastest growing of all mosquito-borne tropical diseases. High fever, rashes, headache and convulsions are only some of the symptoms. In severe cases hospitalization is needed and 20,000 people die each year. The first vaccine against Dengue has now been developed which covers all 4 serotypes. Efficacy is 35-75% with the greatest impact in the most severe form that reduces the number of people needing hospitalizations.
9. Antibody-Drug Conjugates- Let’s face it…tremendous advances have been made in cancer biology that have led to cancer prevention, early detection and treatment. While chemotherapy is still the only treatment for certain cancers, there is now a new class of potent drugs called antibody-drug conjugates that treat certain advanced cancers by combining specific monoclonal antibodies with the cytotoxic potency of chemo medications. This specifically targets a protein only found in or around tumor cells which destroys the tumors while leaving healthy cells alone.
8. Reprogrammed T-Cells to Fight Leukemia- Emily Whitehead, a 10 year old is a pioneer in this battle. She was suffering with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and used a treatment called CAR T-cell therapy in which her own immune cells were withdrawn and modified so they were able to spot the cancer, latch on to it and kill it. It is a way in which we can now edit a person’s DNA. Sounds pretty Sci-fi to me but we have seen 2 cases now in which immune cells (T-cells) can be re-programmed to attack a tumor and fight leukemia.
7. Brain-to-Brain Communication- Scientists at the University of Washington have developed a way in which a “sender” and “receiver” can communicate directly through neuro coding. Different pairs of participants were fitted to an EEG (electroencephalography) machine and played games using yes/no answers via their brain signals over the internet.
6. Stem Cells Rediscovered- Researchers were able to create new primordial germ cells (stem cells) taken from adult skin to develop both sperm and eggs no matter the donors gender! This could be a major breakthrough for those struggling with infertility as well as invitro fertilization for same-sex couples.
5. Melting Cataracts Away- A new steroid eye drop (Lanosterol) has shown promise in shrinking the size of cataracts and preventing it from returning. Studies used it on donated human lenses. Cataracts is the leading cause of blindness globally and the leading cause of vision loss throughout the U.S. Normal treatment involves surgery removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an artificial one. Although Lanosterol, as a treatment for cataracts has not been approved for human testing, we may start hearing more about it very soon.
4. New Alzheimer’s Tests- Several breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research have paved the way in early diagnosis. Researchers have devised a blood test that can predict with 90 percent accuracy whether a healthy person will develop Alzheimer’s disease within 3 years. Early diagnosis is the best way to initiate treatment to preserve mental function.
3. Implantable Brain Chips- This can allow quadriplegics to use their arms by simply using their thoughts. Hand remote-controlled devices have also been developed to allow paraplegics to walk with assistance. Several prototype devices were unveiled this year that marks a huge breakthrough in helping paralyzed individuals to move again.
2. Subdermal Implant for HIV- An implant delivering antiretroviral drugs shows promise in stopping the spread of HIV.
1. Personalized Medicine- we are able to retrieve genetic information of a person’s disease to personally tailor treatment which has dramatically impacted the way cancer is treated. Looking at disease mutations and biomarkers will be the medicine of the future and greater attention will be paid to the genome profile of a patients tumor or disease.
Wishing you a healthy and peaceful New Year!