The history of medicine reaches as far back as the ancient period, yet just a few major discoveries stand out in the public’s mind. From the first heart transplant through to the discovery of antibiotics, medicine has had a lot to offer over the years. While older discoveries are certainly tantalising, there are modern versions that have a lot to offer too.
The HPV Vaccine
As one of the most aggressive female cancers, cervical cancer kills millions of women each year. While vaccine therapies have been explored for decades in relation to cancer, finding one that works has proven to be a challenge for scientists. Today, girls and women aged between 13 and 26 can access a preventative vaccine that significantly reduces their risk of HPV. Not only will this benefit women in the developed world, access in the developing world can significantly enhance women’s health there.
On the face of things, fecal transplants may sound a little gross. However, when it comes to tackling some of the world’s most stubborn bacteria, they can save lives. Clostridium difficile is a violent pathogen that primarily causes infections in a healthcare setting. Thanks to its biological makeup, it’s incredibly hard to tackle. Today, patients can receive fecal transplants that have a 90 percent cure rate, allowing them to get back to good health.
The Use of Maggots to Battle MRSA
If you’ve ever worked in healthcare, you’ll already know how MRSA strikes fear in the hearts of clinicians and patients alike. While antibiotics have acted as life savers during the 20th century, overuse has led to resistance amongst certain bacteria. Researchers at Swansea University in the UK have taken medicine back to basics by using maggots as a form of wound therapy. When maggots are applied to wounds, they secrete a substance patented as ‘Seraticin’, which is antibacterial, antifungal, and too overpowering for MRSA to resist. Fortunately for squeamish patients, researchers are now working towards bottling Seraticin so it can be used without maggots being present.
Long Lasting Contraceptive Microchips
Until 2014, the longest acting contraceptive was the copper IUD, which can give women an impressive chance of staying pregnancy free for 10 years. After more than a decade of scientific development, it looks as though the contraceptive microchip is ready to take the copper IUD’s crown. Not only does it release 30mg of levonorgestrel on a daily basis, it’s possible to turn it on and off at will. As women return to their fertile potential almost immediately after stopping the hormones, it offers contraceptive flexibility that might remain unparalleled for some time now.
After gripping the world with fear in the 1980s and 1990s, HIV is now a condition that can be relatively well controlled. In the last year, scientists have pin pointed combinations of antiretroviral drugs that help patients fight off side-effects, reach their life expectancy, and reduce the risk of spread. Compared to the decade HIV first became evident, which saw slow and painful deaths, this is astounding progress.
With science moving at a rapid pace, the world is sure to see further breakthroughs throughout the 21st century.