Here is the best of 2011 health breakthroughs:
1. HPV (Human Papilloma virus) Testing- Cervical screening with both a pap smear and HPV is more sensitive in detecting high risk viruses that can cause cervical cancer than a pap smear alone.
2. New Brain Imaging to detect early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s effects 4 million people in the U.S. and is expected to increase to 20 million in the next 4 decades.
3. Malaria Vaccine- this vaccine tested on children in sub-Saharen Africa showed almost a 50% decrease in the risk of infection. This is the first vaccine against a human parasite.
4. Generating Stem Cells Artificially- researchers are now able to combine the DNA of a human and combine that with genetic material of an egg to generate stem cells. This cuts the need for using an embryo for stem cell production.
5. Mindfullness Meditation causes changes in grey matter of the brain according to a 2011 study in the Journal Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging. It especially effects the areas of learning, memory processes and emotions.
6. Healthy Men Do Not Need PSA (prostate specific antigen) Screening for Prostate Cancer- The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommend against screening men with this test since it does not save lives and can lead to unnecessary treatments. Men should discuss whether to get screened with their doctors.
7. Recall on Cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Colorado due to deadly Listeria outbreak. An estimated 146 people were infected with this food poisoning from 28 states according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control).
8. Researchers Sequence Genes of Virulent Bacteria- Scientists led by Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston sequenced the whole genome of bacteria samples from patients with cystic fibrosis infected with a bacteria called Burkholderia dolsoa. This bacteria is highly resistant to antibiotics. This discovery may lead to new drug therapies.
9. Hepatitis C drug breakthrough- Four new Hepatitis C drugs increased cure rates up to 70%.
10. HIV Treatment as Prevention- This was voted the most important breakthrough of 2011! The anti-retroviral drug used to treat HIV showed a 96% decrease in transmitting the virus to an uninfected partner.
Wishing you a healthy Happy New Year!