The world of medicine changes drastically every decade or so. The advancements, and discoveries, that are made are happening at a much faster pace than every before in history. In many cases these discoveries have meant the difference between life and death then and today. Of course, there have also been a fair share of mistakes. However, these advancements are nothing short of miraculous considering that life saving, and life altering, techniques are more commonplace today than they were just 10 years ago. Recounting these discoveries, here are the top 10 medical breakthroughs in the 21st century.
1. Human Genome Discovery
In 2000 an amazing breakthrough the International Human Genome Project released a blueprint of the over 2000 different genomes in the human body. This discovery has been hailed by many scientists and organizations as the single most important discovery in the last 200 years let alone in just this century. Knowing, and seeing, the human genome opens the door to many more discoveries that are on the verge of being known. This is especially important in cancer research, virus prevention and other medical mysteries.
2. HPV Vaccine
In 2006 a revolutionary vaccine was made to the public that completely changed the face of cervical cancer in women. Never before has a vaccine been made available that could prevent a form of cancer. It was also made available for men in 2009 to help prevent HPV from spreading.
3. Stem Cell Research
In an advancement that has been more politicized than anything else, the world of stem cell research is still an exciting area. The many different conditions and diseases that can be eradicated because of adult or embryonic stem cells is staggering. In one instance, a seven year old boy had altered stem cells placed back within his bone marrow that halted the progress of a fatal brain disease.
This initiative which was launched in 2005 makes use of some rather revolutionary discoveries in particles at the sub-atomic level. This nanomedicine makes use of nanotechnology to manipulate molecules for diagnosing, treating and preventing disease in humans. While this technology is still being studied, it has shown incredible promise in the different ways it has been used.
5. Information Technology and Sharing
While there are still rows and rows of files that carry the medical history of everyone on the planet, there is also a digital record that can be shared by doctor’s must faster than the normal routes. The internet and information technology has forever changed the way that doctors can keep up to date on their patients, and especially those who are referred to them. Many patients even carry their history on their wrist on a bar code that they receive upon admission. This makes sure that the right patient receives the right treatment when available.
6. Cancer Research
In this century there have been more advancements in cancer research than at any other time in history. Because of the diligent work of researchers new drugs are now available that actually target cancer cells within the body. One such drug, Herceptin, targets certain breast cancer. Another pill called Gleevec has been instrumental in mutated cells that grow and multiply rapidly. These two discoveries are opening new doors to more medication that can help millions of cancer patients around the world.
7. Face Transplant Surgery
In something that was once thought impossible, and only in the world of science fiction, plastic surgeons can now completely transplant a new face onto someone suffering through deformities. Ever since French doctors performed a partial face transplant in 2005, doctors have been working on perfecting this technique to give people a new lease on life.
8. Anti-Smoking Laws
In one fell sweep many states have been able to pass laws that ban public smoking. This has been tremendous in the fight against second hand smoke and lung cancer. Since the bans started to take effect in public areas, restaurants, the workplace, and even in vehicles there had been an enormous impact on the diseases that effect the culture at large. While this ban helps protect people from second hand smoke, it is also in incentive for people to quit smoking altogether.
9. Robotic Surgery Technique
The surgeries that were performed several years ago that left 10 inch scars are no longer a part of the landscape. Today people can have surgeries that not only can be done as an outpatient service, but also leave no trace of any bodily invasion. Not only is the small scar much better for the patient, but the surgery itself has a higher level of accuracy. No longer are shaky hands a problem in delicate areas.
10. Mind Reading
Mind reading is now a reality that is no longer a side show at a carnival. In a startling breakthrough, scientists and medical researchers have found a way to peer into the brain and see how it actually works. This is not only landmark as far as discoveries go, but has given innumerable looks into how people interact, make decisions, and develop cognitive thinking. Using a technique called functional MRI, doctors can now get a better grip on things like depression, autism, memory disorders, and even brain cancers.
In the last 10 years, there have been marvels and miracles in the field of medicine. Everything from vaccines to medicines to robots that do surgery have allowed researchers to take giant leaps ahead in being able to better take care of patients and prevent diseases. These top 10 medical breakthroughs of the 21st century, as amazing as they are, are also precursors to discoveries to be made in the next 10 years.