February 22, 2016

Exciting medical advancements

By Marian Tupy
The pace of technological and scientific progress is truly awe-inspiring. The free market is continuously helping humanity to coordinate solutions to some of our most pressing challenges, and advances in the field of medicine are particularly heartening. Exciting medical advancements currently underway include 3D printing bones, a better way to monitor patients’ health, and even a cure for frightening memories that could end PTSD and phobias. Read on to learn more.

A drug to cure fear? 

While thousands of individuals suffer from different forms of PTSD and phobias, therapeutic treatments have remained mostly ineffective. New research from the University of Amsterdam uncovered that not only can emotional memories be altered, but they can actually be erased.

The study examined 45 individuals with arachnophobia and found that those who were treated with a beta-blocker called propranolol had no feelings of anxiety when holding a spider. The researchers compared anxiety levels in the subjects before treatment and three months later and found that the subjects were able to hold the spider in their bare hands without becoming anxious. Associating the physical spider with the fear of spiders itself is reduced by the drug, which is why the subjects were eventually able to hold the spider.

This treatment will be helpful in treating PTSD patients, particularly soldiers who return from combat. Some might argue that the drug could be used as a method of erasing memories completely and that it is important for individuals to have those types of emotional memories. But it is important to note that the drug only erases the emotional memory of the event, not the actually memory of the event itself. In most cases, the treatment could help those with phobias and PTSD live better, healthier lives.

Dissolvable brain implants the size of a grain of rice invented by scientists.

A very small surgical implant in the brain has been developed to monitor a patient’s recovery in a hospital. The device itself can dissolve harmlessly after several days. Current devices used to monitor patients are clunky, involve many wires and screen displays, and make the patient prone to infection. This device overcomes those problems by being dissolvable, making it an important step towards more effective healthcare technology.

Growing bones with 3D printers.

Through the use of 3D printing, an American company has found a way to efficiently create bone replacements using animal bone and human fat cells. By taking a CT of the area in need of a bone replacement, 3D printing technology uses the animal bone as a blueprint and uses human cells created from the patient’s fat cells to create a new bone. Clinical trials could begin in a few years if the company gets FDA approval.