Here are five of the most fascinating medical innovations of 2016.
Male Birth Control
For the most part, long-term birth control has remained the responsibility of the female in a relationship, but 2016 brought the idea of male hormonal birth control closer to becoming a reality.
In March, University Of Minnesota researchers presented their latest findings on modifying the chemical structure of previous forms of the male birth control pill in an effort to make the pill more effective. However, this fall, a study published in the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism detailed the first trial on a male birth control shot. Although many of the men involved in the trial had unpleasant side effects, which shut down the trial, the shot had about a 96 percent effectiveness rate and of the 320 men involved in the study, their partners reported only four pregnancies.
Shrinking Breast Cancer Tumours
Earlier this year, scientists learned that the combination of two separate breast cancer drugs, trastuzumab (Herceptin) and lapatinib (Tyverb) was able to dramatically shrink breast cancer tumours in HER2 positive breast cancer patients in only 11 days, The BBC reported. What’s more, in about 11 percent of the patients, the tumours were completely obliterated. The response was even seen in women who had Stage 2 breast cancer which had spread to their lymph nodes.
The results, though exciting, need further research before the treatment can be made available for patients. What’s more, the long-term results are not entirely clear.
No More Root Canals
Root canals are arguably one of the most dreaded oral procedures, but earlier this year, scientists from the University of Nottingham and Harvard University created a dental filling that stimulates tooth regrowth, and allows teeth to repair themselves while preventing any further dental damage, Newsweek reported.
The implant is placed directly into a decaying tooth where it stimulates stem cells in the tooth to grow dentin, the substance that makes up the majority of our teeth. The tool could eventually prevent the need for painful root canals by ensuring that the tooth decay never gets this far in the first place.
In April, the fight against HIV took an interesting turn when researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease found that a single injection of a powerful HIV-fighting antibody was able to protect monkeys from an HIV-like infection for up to six months, UPI reported. The antibodies were created by the monkey’s own immune system, and were chosen for their specific effectiveness against a simian version of the virus.
In recent years, scientists have isolated a number of antibodies that certain individuals with HIV have produced against the virus. Researchers hope this finding may help in efforts to create an eventual HIV vaccine for humans.
Regrowing Female Eggs
In sex education, we are taught that a baby girl is born with all the eggs she will ever have in life, but a recent study has seriously challenged this medical “fact.” This fall, researchers in London realized that a cancer drug is likely what caused female patients to grow new eggs, something once thought to be impossible.
Although the finding is too novel to be included in any fertility clinics just yet, it does cause us to question what we know about female reproduction, and suggests that infertility may not be as permanent as we once thought.
Source: Medical Daily