March 08, 2016

Medical Advances Exemplifying Human Progress

By Marian Tupy
Advances in the field of medicine are a great example of human progress. Practically every day there is another potentially life-saving breakthrough in the news. These are just a few of the heartening stories that caught my eye recently.  

New genetic test to detect heart conditions  

Researchers at the British Heart Foundation have developed a blood test that can detect any genetically-inherited heart condition. The test will likely become an important part of healthcare, since many people die each year from undiagnosed heart complications.  By looking at 174 different genes, the new blood test aims to alert the patient to potential problems before a tragic death occurs.

First patient in diabetes trial no longer needs insulin therapy  

After receiving therapeutic delivery of insulin cells, a 43-year-old patient, who has been dependent on insulin injections since the age of 17, appeared to be producing insulin naturally. While the patient will still need to take drugs to ensure that her body continues to accept the therapeutic treatment in the long term, researchers feel that a cure for diabetes is closer than ever.  

British patient first to receive cancer fighting vaccine  

Kelly Potter, age 35, has become one of the first patients to be injected with a new cancer-fighting vaccine. She had the first injection on February 9 and will receive another seven injections throughout the treatment.  The treatment stimulates the immune system to fight those parts of cancer cells that allow the latter to continue replicating, slowing down the spread of the cancer. Combined with chemotherapy, the body’s immune system will be able to fully break down its own cancerous cells.

Blood test reveals “true age”  

New research has found a way to predict the likelihood that someone can die from cancer based on their biological age. This is different than a person’s physical age, because factors such as smoking, drinking, and exposure to toxins contribute to the acceleration of one’s biological age. The team of researchers found that if the body’s biological age is 2.2 years older than actual age, there is little chance of surviving cancer.