The Most Promising Medical Developments of the Near Future

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Priorities in medical science are difficult to
set. Budgets are always less than desired and the danger of some diseases to
humanity can be underestimated. People live longer, which means they are more
likely to eventually get cancer or dementia. The importance of mental health is
also being discussed like never before. We want to tell you about five medical
developments that could potentially benefit everyone.

HIV Contraceptive

In attempts to make HIV prevention more
reliable, scientists have developed a tool only for women. This is a vaginal
ring that releases an antiviral drug. Various clinical researches and leading gynecologists studied how the device works in
real women. Doctors are trying to use different doses of active substances and
different designs.

The ring can be used for 90 days without a
break or it can be changed once a month. The device may contain only the drug
for HIV prevention or its combination with hormones for a contraceptive effect.
For a month-long ring containing only dapivirine (an antiviral drug), HIV
prevention efficacy has already been confirmed. A ring with a dual function
(contraceptive and prophylactic) has not been studied long enough.

Herpes Treatment for the
Prevention of Dementia

Almost everyone has the herpes simplex virus.
It is not possible to eliminate this virus from the body. It lives in cells of
the immune system, neurons and may not manifest itself for a long time. The
rashes that appear when the virus is activated are unpleasant but not enough to
give it a priority in scientific researches.

The situation has changed in the fall of 2018
when people around the world started talking about the relationship between
Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and the herpes simplex virus. In a publication
by Oxford University, scientist Ruth Yitzhaki was said that carriers of a
particular mutation are more predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease. Herpes virus
is periodically activated in the brain tissue, gradually damaging them.

In Taiwan, a lot of people have already
demonstrated that antiviral therapy can reduce the risk of dementia. This data may change the approach to
the disease worldwide.

Facial Transplantation and Tissue

About forty face transplantation operations
have been already carried out in the world. It is not enough in comparison with
a kidney transplant but enough to talk about the possibilities and difficulties
of such treatment. The operation can last a day or longer and requires the
coordinated work of several dozen doctors and nurses.

A transplant operation is only the beginning
because after it there remains a risk of transplant rejection and special
therapy is needed to prevent this complication.

A separate problem, both technical and
ethical, is the search for a donor. Tissues must be fresh, compatible with the
recipient and the procedure must be legal. If we talk about the consent of the
relatives of the deceased, agreeing to donate a kidney or heart can be easier
than giving the face of your loved one to another person.

Ethical difficulties and problems with the
risk of rejection will be resolved when it becomes possible to grow tissue from
intact cells and scientists are actively working on this. Ohio University has
developed a method that in animal experiments can quickly repair any damaged
tissue from blood vessels to nerves. But the possibility of using this
technology on people is still very far away.

Genome Editing and Cancer

CRISPR technology is usually spoken in the
context of embryo genome editing with all the attendant ethical challenges.
Last year, the birth of the first genetically modified child was announced in
China, that thanks to genome editing, was born immune to HIV. The news provoked
a scandal.

Of course, this is a difficult question. On
one hand, if it becomes possible to prevent congenital diseases like cystic fibrosis, it would be great to use
them. On the other hand, the arguments of genome editing opponents are quite
understandable, comparing it with the development of weapons and pointing to
the contradiction of the Hippocratic oath.

CRISPR/Cas9 technology is also discussed in
another context. Theoretically, it can be useful in any condition associated
with DNA mutations, which means it can become a new oncological treatment
method. In immun-oncology, scientists are trying to apply this technology in
order to change the genetic properties of T-lymphocytes and make them attack

The first injection of cells with edited genes
was introduced in 2016 to a patient with lung cancer in China. Details have not
yet been disclosed but the authors of the study report that “everything is
going well”. Now studies of the new method are being performed in
different countries and people with different types of malignant tumors are
participating in them.

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