In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, more people than ever are realizing the value of medical research and its critical role in changing our society and healthcare systems. Research in health care is essential if we are to provide the greatest possible treatment for everyone in the future and today.
We may improve our operations and healthcare and make a positive difference with the information we obtain from clinical trials, equipment testing, surveys, questionnaires, or data analysis. Aspirin, penicillin, and the contraceptive pill would never have been discovered without the tireless efforts of scientists, researchers, and volunteers.
So, on that note – let’s discuss some breakthrough treatments that have changed medicine as we know it today.
Everyone can better understand the importance of vaccines after the pandemic of Covid-19. Edward Jenner made the first vaccine for smallpox in 1796. Before this vaccine, almost 300-500 million people lost their lives in the 19th century. Jenner made the first attempt to control an infectious disease by vaccination. On May 8, 1980, World Health Association announced that the world was free of smallpox.
mRNA vaccinology is an emerging technique and uses a short piece of mRNA (a type of nucleic acid RNA) rather than a weak or dead micro-organism. mRNA used in vaccines belongs to viral proteins, and administration induces immunity by producing specific antibodies for the virus. These antibodies remain stored in the body, and when the body is exposed to a real pathogen, these preformed antibodies can quickly.
The creation of vaccines doesn’t only involve medical experts but also scientists who spend years carrying out research and tests to make a breakthrough. So it is an essential part of medical research, and if you search “medical scientist salary” online, you will find how important the process is and how much these experts and their research are worth.
2- Zapping Prostate Cancer
This type of cancer develops in the prostate – a walnut-shaped gland in males. The prostate’s function is to protect and nourish the sperms by producing a thick liquid called Semen.
Genetic mutation is the only known cause of prostate cancer. Therefore, the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer by PSMA PET is a breakthrough in the field of medicine.
PSMA (Protein Specific Membrane Antigen) is a potential biomarker of this disease found in high levels on the surface of prostate cancer cells. PSMA Positron Emitting Tomography (PET) is a new medical procedure to scan prostate cancer precisely for better treatment and targeted care. It emits radioactive tracers that bind to PSMA proteins on prostate cancer cells, making them more visible. FDA approved this technique in 2020 due to higher accuracy in detecting prostate cancer than MRI and CT scans.
Radiopharmaceuticals such as 177Lu-PSMA-617 can be added to PSMA PET to target and kill PSMA protein biomarkers.
3- Gene Therapy
Gene therapy represents a significant shift in the field of medicine. It involves the modification of a person’s DNA to treat diseases such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. Instead of investing in drugs to treat symptoms, gene therapy works on the principle of treating the underlying genetic cause of the disease.
In gene therapy, a few defective cells are removed from the body, and their genetic material is modified in the laboratory by introducing new functional genes. Then, these modified cells are reintroduced into the body and begin their normal function.
Sickle Cell Anemia is the first disease cured by gene therapy. It is an inherited disorder and affects 100,000 people in the U.S.A. and millions around the globe. The body starts forming abnormal sickle-shaped red blood cells in sickle cell anemia due to genetic mutation. Sickle-shaped RBCs cannot carry enough oxygen in the body, which reduces the oxygen level.
In gene therapy of sickle cell anemia, stem cells are removed and modified in the laboratory. When these modified cells are introduced into the body, they start to make average round or oval-shaped red blood cells.
4- Infusion for Postpartum Depression
The time after baby birth can be challenging for some women as it can cause happiness and sometimes tension. If you feel anxiety or mood swings, you may have postpartum depression. Approximately 15% of the mothers experience postpartum depression. Unfortunately, this disorder’s prevalence is twice as high as the statistics because many cases go undiagnosed.
Counselling therapies and medications are primary treatments, but many women do not recover from these. The FDA approved an intravenous infusion in 2019 to treat postpartum depression. This treatment is a breakthrough as it uses a neurosteroid that controls the brain’s response to stress and shows benefits quickly compared to antidepressants that take 2-4 weeks to effect significantly.
5- Treatment for the reduction of LDL
LDL or Low-Density Lipids, also known as ‘bad cholesterol,’ can raise the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This is because high amounts of LDL in the body can accumulate in the walls of blood vessels and form a mass called ‘plaque.’ This plaque can narrow blood vessels that can reduce blood flow to the heart, which is called pain in the chest (angina) or a heart attack.
The FDA approved an injectable called Inclisiran in 2021 to treat high LDLs. Inclisiran is chemically synthesized using small interfering RNA and targets PCSK9 protein to LDLs in the body. Inclisiran is considered a game-changer for heart diseases.
6- Medications for HCM
HCM or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which heart muscles become thick and cannot pump blood effectively. This can cause shortness of breath, angina, irregular heartbeat, heart electrical activity changes, or sudden death. Nonspecific medications such as beta-blockers, anticoagulants, or antiarrhythmic drugs are used to treat HCM. The discovery of medicines specifically for HCM is a significant achievement.
The FDA approved a first-in-class medication targeting heart muscles to treat HCM. This medication can reduce the progression of the disease in the patient.
The advancement in medicine depends on the time-consuming research work of many dedicated individuals. Without the advances in medical research that have saved lives and improved treatment, none of these breakthroughs would have been possible. So, let’s thank all those who spend their lives trying to improve our lives!