Medical Marvels We Witnessed This Year
As medical technology gets more advanced, things start to get a lot more exciting. If medical technology can double healthy lifespan to 120 years, then all sorts of new opportunities open up. We could have multiple careers, take more time off work when we’re young and spend less money on healthcare.
You might think that all that sounds a little fanciful, but so too would telling the people alive at the start of the twentieth century that average lifespans would double by 2000, which they did.
Every year, new technologies are developed that push the human species towards greater longevity. Here are some of the best from 2016, just in case you missed them.
Treat Alzheimer’s Before It Gets Serious
For decades, doctors have treated the so-called risk factors for heart disease, like cholesterol and high blood pressure, with a variety of drugs. Now they’re wondering if the same approach might work with another illness: Alzheimer's. Like heart disease, certain people with certain risk factors are at risk of Alzheimer’s, and so the race is on to develop drugs that can prevent these factors from doing damage to the brain. Last year, researchers at the American Academy of Neurology began trialing different drugs to see if they prevented the disease from getting started. One drug, called solanezumab, proved that it could slow the progression of the diseases, opening up the possibility that the disease process could be reversed.
New Bone-Based Hearing Implants
It’s a wonder of the modern world that we’re now developing tools to allow the blind to see and the deaf to hear: things which required miracles to achieve in the past. Cochlear implants have been successful for many patients, but for some, they’ve been useless. The tasks for the medical industry has been finding hearing implants that work for a range of hearing conditions. Now a new type of hearing implant has become available: bone conduction ear implants, which provide an alternative to hearing aids. Bone implants are designed for people who aren’t able to wear conventional hearing aids for medical reasons or have only suffered hearing loss in one ear. A receiver near the person’s ear collects sounds from the environment, converts these into vibrations and then transmits these through the bones in the skull. These vibrations are then interpreted by the patient’s brain as sounds, allowing them to hear once more.
A Super Vaccine For Cancer
Joe Biden recently called fighting cancer the only bipartisan issue in politics. Cancer is one of the most devastating diseases on the planet, causing heartache for millions. But what if you could vaccinate against it?
Some anti-cancer experts believe that they may have found a way to create a cancer vaccine. The idea is quite simple. All cancer cells develop a protein called MUC1 on their surface. The purpose of this protein is to collect sugar from the bloodstream to help cancer to grow. Scientists believe that this might be cancer’s Achilles heel. If they can make a vaccine against MUC1, then the body’s immune system will attack cells containing the protein wherever they arise. In other words, the immune system will kill cancer cells before they have time to gain a foothold.