When technology comes to the aid of science

When technology comes to the aid of science

The most important advances in medical science in the past year
Medical science is advancing rapidly in recent decades with the use of technology and the phenomenon of globalization that has connected researchers in this field. The past year has also seen dramatic advances in medicine, some of the most important of which are listed below.
1- Artificial pancreas
Millions of patients in the world and in Iran suffer from diabetes and this number is expected to increase. Recently, a system of simultaneous injection of insulin (a hormone that lowers blood sugar) and glucagon (a hormone that raises blood sugar) has been introduced that can control the blood sugar of these patients. Older pumps contained only insulin and sometimes posed a risk of severe hypoglycemia in these patients. In this new system, a small device for detecting blood sugar is embedded under the patient’s skin. The device regularly informs the patient of a small blood glucose pump attached to the patient’s belt, according to which the pump injects insulin or glucagon into the patient. In this system, much of what the human pancreas does is simulated. The system received US Food and Drug Administration approval last year and entered the market.
2- Movement of paralyzed limbs by stimulating brain muscles
Many patients around the world are unable to move their limbs due to stroke or spinal cord injury. In this method, special stimuli through the brain can move the muscles at the patient’s will. To do this, two electrodes are implanted in the patient’s brain and muscle. Gradually the patient is instructed to be able to control these electrodes and move his or her muscles (such as the hand). This technology is active to the extent that the patient can perform simple and everyday tasks such as eating. It is hoped that with advances in this field, patients suffering from paralysis of one or all of their limbs will one day be able to return to normal.
3- “CRISPR” genetic splicing technology
This technology can prevent genetic diseases by genetically modifying the fetus. This method has raised the hope that it can cure diseases such as hemophilia or cystic fibrosis. Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the method for treating a genetic retinal disease. This method has even been used to create genetic changes in animal embryos that can be used to transplant organs into humans. Making these changes in the past has taken years; But with new technology, these changes can be made in a matter of months.
4 – 3D texture printing
The next three-dimensional printing technology has now entered the medical field. With this method, teeth, earlobes or all kinds of artificial organs (prostheses) can now be made to treat human diseases. Recently, this technology has been used to make a bladder for the patient. It is hoped that with advances in this field, vital organs such as the heart, lungs or liver can also be made and used to treat diseases.

5 – Nerve stimulation to treat sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders affecting millions of patients worldwide. This condition is often accompanied by snoring during sleep. Complications of this disease include the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Obese people are prone to this disease. Using a device called “CPAP” is the preferred treatment for this disease. This device keeps the airway open by creating a positive pressure; But it is difficult for many patients to use; So that 40% of patients refuse to use it during sleep. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration has approved an easier way to treat this disease. In this method, an electrode that is placed on the patient’s chest, by stimulating the diaphragm muscles, prevents respiratory arrest (apnea) during sleep.
6. Sampling of body fluids to diagnose cancer
Diagnosis of cancer often requires tissue sampling, which is not only painful; It also comes at a high cost. Studies have shown that genetic material (DNA) is released from cancer cells that can be detected in body fluids such as blood or urine. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have recently developed a method called Biopsy Liquid that can be used to accurately detect genetics in body fluids to diagnose cancer. Diagnosed and treated in the early stages.
7- Reconstructive medicine
Reconstructive medicine is a new branch of medical science that seeks to repair and engineer body tissues using the human body’s own cells, such as stem cells. This can be done inside the body or outside it. This method has been used to make skin, cartilage or simple organs such as the urethra or bladder. It is hoped that with the advancement of this technology, more complex organs such as the heart or liver can also be made. In the past year, Japanese researchers have been able to use their own stem cells to treat retinopathy. The researchers first differentiated the patient’s own stem cells into retinal cells and then injected them into the patient’s retina. One year after the surgery, the researchers found that the cells were still alive and working. Adult stem cells, unlike embryonic stem cells, do not differentiate into all tissues. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of the University of Tokyo in Japan has shown for the first time that it can be transformed into embryonic stem cells by genetic modifications in adult stem cells. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012. Because the use of embryonic stem cells is morally associated with its own issues, this technology has made it possible to use adult stem cells for reconstructive medicine. The above patient is the first disease that this technology has been used to treat his retinal disease.

Dr. Reza Saeedi Firoozabadi – Transplant Surgeon

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