The pace at which our medical technology evolves probably does not regularly occupy your thoughts. However, if you look back on the last twenty years, you’ll quickly realize that many things have been achieved that would have once been thought impossible. Today, medicine is capable of remarkable things, some of which you may be familiar with.
Controlling Your Cycle
A package of birth control pills has long contained a standard 21 active pills and seven inert ones, resulting in a monthly menstrual cycle. However, 2003 brought FDA approval for a type of oral contraceptive, which is called Seasonale, that allowed women to have only four cycles annually. Later in 2007, another drug, Lybrel, became the only birth control pill to eliminate the time of the month entirely.
Laparoscopic surgery is the new preferred method for a number of common operations, such as appendectomy, gallbladder removal and abdominal surgery. Laparoscopic surgery means that the procedure is less invasive, patients experience less discomfort, scars are minimized and healing is hastened. Rather than using incisions, some of these surgeries take advantage of the body’s normal openings, such as the nose, rectum and throat. These types of ultra-clean surgeries are performed at clinics like Oroville Hospital Surgical Specialists.
In early 2003, researchers proclaimed that they’d finished a rough draft of every gene that comprises human DNA. The sequence, as it is called, contains upward of three billion letters. This incredible advancement has enabled scientists to determine which genes cause which diseases, paving the way toward greatly improved therapies.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are unique in that they can be turned into any cell type the body requires. Given the massive medical and restorative potential of stem cells, it’s no surprise that scientists have begun calling for intensive research into their use. In another ground-breaking discovery in 2006, scientists found that adult cells, even those from skin, can be reverted back to stem cells. Just last year, researchers stated that they’ve finally managed to clone these cells. Stem cells hold promise for treating diseases of the eyes and heart, but development is still in its infancy.
Twenty years ago, the idea of a face transplant was considered science fiction. These days, however, it’s a science fact. The world’s first partial transplant was done in 2005 in France. Half a decade later, a man in Spain received the first complete facial transplant after being deformed during an accident. The surgery provided him with new cheekbones, lips, nose and teeth and took a staggering 24 hours to perform.
There are numerous health issues facing civilization today, but there’s more hope than ever for overcoming them. As medical science continues to make awe-inspiring strides, new and better therapies will inevitably arise.