The Most Promising Medical Developments of the Near Future

The Most Promising Medical Developments of the Near Future

Priorities in medical science are difficult to set. Budgets are always less than desired and the danger of some diseases to humanity can be underestimated. People live longer, which means they are more likely to eventually get cancer or dementia. The importance of mental health is also being discussed like never before. We want to tell you about five medical developments that could potentially benefit everyone.

HIV Contraceptive

In attempts to make HIV prevention more reliable, scientists have developed a tool only for women. This is a vaginal ring that releases an antiviral drug. Various clinical researches and leading gynecologists studied how the device works in real women. Doctors are trying to use different doses of active substances and different designs.

The ring can be used for 90 days without a break or it can be changed once a month. The device may contain only the drug for HIV prevention or its combination with hormones for a contraceptive effect. For a month-long ring containing only dapivirine (an antiviral drug), HIV prevention efficacy has already been confirmed. A ring with a dual function (contraceptive and prophylactic) has not been studied long enough.

Herpes Treatment for the Prevention of Dementia

Almost everyone has the herpes simplex virus. It is not possible to eliminate this virus from the body. It lives in cells of the immune system, neurons and may not manifest itself for a long time. The rashes that appear when the virus is activated are unpleasant but not enough to give it a priority in scientific researches.

The situation has changed in the fall of 2018 when people around the world started talking about the relationship between Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and the herpes simplex virus. In a publication by Oxford University, scientist Ruth Yitzhaki was said that carriers of a particular mutation are more predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease. Herpes virus is periodically activated in the brain tissue, gradually damaging them.

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In Taiwan, a lot of people have already demonstrated that antiviral therapy can reduce the risk of dementia. This data may change the approach to the disease worldwide.

Facial Transplantation and Tissue Growth

About forty face transplantation operations have been already carried out in the world. It is not enough in comparison with a kidney transplant but enough to talk about the possibilities and difficulties of such treatment. The operation can last a day or longer and requires the coordinated work of several dozen doctors and nurses.

A transplant operation is only the beginning because after it there remains a risk of transplant rejection and special therapy is needed to prevent this complication.

A separate problem, both technical and ethical, is the search for a donor. Tissues must be fresh, compatible with the recipient and the procedure must be legal. If we talk about the consent of the relatives of the deceased, agreeing to donate a kidney or heart can be easier than giving the face of your loved one to another person.

Ethical difficulties and problems with the risk of rejection will be resolved when it becomes possible to grow tissue from intact cells and scientists are actively working on this. Ohio University has developed a method that in animal experiments can quickly repair any damaged tissue from blood vessels to nerves. But the possibility of using this technology on people is still very far away.

Genome Editing and Cancer

CRISPR technology is usually spoken in the context of embryo genome editing with all the attendant ethical challenges. Last year, the birth of the first genetically modified child was announced in China, that thanks to genome editing, was born immune to HIV. The news provoked a scandal.

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Of course, this is a difficult question. On one hand, if it becomes possible to prevent congenital diseases like cystic fibrosis, it would be great to use them. On the other hand, the arguments of genome editing opponents are quite understandable, comparing it with the development of weapons and pointing to the contradiction of the Hippocratic oath.

CRISPR/Cas9 technology is also discussed in another context. Theoretically, it can be useful in any condition associated with DNA mutations, which means it can become a new oncological treatment method. In immuno-oncology, scientists are trying to apply this technology in order to change the genetic properties of T-lymphocytes and make them attack tumors.

The first injection of cells with edited genes was introduced in 2016 to a patient with lung cancer in China. Details have not yet been disclosed but the authors of the study report that “everything is going well”. Now studies of the new method are being perfomred in different countries and people with different types of malignant tumors are participating in them.

 

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