The 5 biggest medical breakthroughs of the decade
Biomedical science never stands still; thanks to the constant discoveries we’re making about how our bodies work. With the evolution of technology and our ever-growing bank of knowledge to build upon, scientists continue to make new discoveries about human life every day. If you’re looking at working in the field of biomedical science jobs, here are some recent medical breakthroughs which you might find interesting.
1) Immunotherapy to treat cancer
Cancer is usually treated with a very harsh regime of drugs, most of which have very undesirable side effects, including hair loss, sickness, and exhaustion. Scientists have discovered a way to use your body’s natural defence, your immune system, to fight back against rogue cancer cells, and they’re calling it immunotherapy. The American Cancer Society’s research showed that the presence of a cancer cell makes your immune system speed up, which exhausts it to the point it gives up. Their Chief Medical Officer, J Leonard Lichtenfield, said “The new drugs interrupt the cycle so your body can fight. It’s not an overstatement to say this is a turning point in cancer research, especially for patients with melanoma.”
A symptomless killer, transmitted through contaminated blood, existing treatments were only able to help 30 to 40% of sufferers. However, in 2013, the drug Sofosbuvir was brought to the market. When used in conjunction with Simprevir, up to 90% of patients were cured. Liver disease expert from Mount Sinai Hospital, Professor Douglas Dieterich, who was involved in trials of the drug, calls this combination “the big guns”, and is looking forward to the introduction of Ledipasvir, whose initial trials show excellent potential. For UK specific guidance, read NICE’s page about the drug.
Before the introduction of Clearblue’s digital tests, women simply performed a urine test which stated that they were either pregnant or not. These tests looked for HCG, a hormone created by the body when pregnancy occurs. Clearblue’s new tests don’t just look for HCG, they measure it. The higher the concentration, the longer the lady has been pregnant for. This allowed them to add a new feature to their pregnancy tests – the ability to know how long you’ve been pregnant for. For more specific information, read Clearblue’s website for professionals.
4) 3D printing for dialysis patients
Hoping to revolutionise the lives of dialysis patients, Chinese scientists and researchers Maling Gou and Xin Qu of Sichuan University have used 3D printing to help build on a theory that nanoparticles could be used to collect impurities from the blood. Previously, this idea has been rejected, as the nanoparticles themselves could cause damage to the liver, but Gou and Qu have created a 3D matrix, using 3D printers, to keep the nanoparticles contained, while still able to do their job.
5) The bionic eye
Introduced to the UK in 2011, and only recently adopted by our American cousins, the Argus 2 turns your eye into Wi-Fi! A tiny camera, mounted on a pair of glasses, sends a signal wirelessly to an implant mounted into the retina of a visually impaired person. While it’s not a complete replacement for lost sight, it will help a blind person distinguish the drop from the pavement to the road or two differently coloured socks.
Whichever part of the biomedical world you’re thinking of working in, there’s bound to be a fascinating job for you.
This is a collaborative post