Change is the only constant when it comes to medical advancements. Medical professionals are always looking for ways to implement the latest technologies in medicine in the quest to save lives. Among the leading medical innovations are game-changing treatments for malaria, parasites and diabetes, as well as “nanobots” for delivering treatment inside the body.
Youyou Tu: Treating Malaria
Youyou Tu, a researcher at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing, received a 2015 Nobel Prize for her work in combating malaria.
Tu used her knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine to identify Artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates for patients suffering from malaria. The compound comes from sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua) — a natural remedy for treating fever.
Drugs developed using Artemisinin have improved recovery time and survival rates for millions of people with the disease. The World Health Organization says that about 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2015, there were 214 million cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths.
William C. Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura: Fighting Roundworm Infections
Derivatives of Avermectin have significantly lowered the occurrence of River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis, as well as showing promise in helping to treat other diseases caused by parasites.
Campbell conducted his research while working as a professor at Drew University in New Jersey. Ōmura’s work was done at Kitasato University in Japan.
Cherie Stabler, Nanotechnology and Diabetes
Prof. Cherie Stabler is one of the leading researchers in the world focused on treating Type-1 diabetes, which afflicts more than 380 million people worldwide.
Stabler is the director of the Tissue Engineering Program at the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami. Her research is using “nano-scale” coatings on islet cells — the cells that produce insulin.
Researchers are working on treating diabetes by transplanting modified islet cells into diabetes patients to restore the natural production of insulin. But one of the challenges is to protect those “foreign cells” from the body’s own immune system.
“We’re trying to protect the cells and create a better environment for them,” Stabler said during a recent interview. “If you can protect the cell surface and mask those expressions of factors that the immune cells are going to recognize as foreign, then you’re going to be able to try and dampen or mask that immune response.”
Joseph Wang, Microfish for Drug Delivery
Nanotechnology is also being used by Prof. Joseph Wang, who leads a research group at the Nano Engineering Department at the University of California-San Diego.
Wang and his team are developing fish-shaped nanobots, called “microfish”, with the potential to be used for medical treatments, such as directed drug delivery.
Wang conducted the first successful tests in which nanobots were used to perform a task inside a living creature. In 2015, his team used this technology in a mouse to deliver treatment to the creature’s stomach, without causing adverse effects.
The microfish, each about the size of a single human hair, were implanted into the mouse’s stomach and propelled into the stomach lining to deliver a highly targeted internal drug treatment.
Top Sources for News on Medical Innovations
For the latest on medical innovations, check out these resources:
In addition to these sites, here are some informative resources we’ve shared:
- Advantages of a Medical Device Contingent Workforce
- How the Affordable Care Act is Shaking Up the Medical Industry
- What are the best medical careers and science jobs?
Jobs in the Medical Field
The medical field will always be in need of qualified, caring professionals. These are some of the top jobs we see in medicine:
- Medical Assistant/Phlebotomy
- Laboratory Technician I
- Clinical Nursing