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Category - Medicine

9 New Discoveries Set to Change Medicine

The number of important medical discoveries at Harvard Medical School since the 1970s has more than quadrupled when compared to the previous 150 years. The pace of medical technology advancement clips along quite rapidly. Here are nine recent or pending discoveries and what they mean for the future of medicine.

1. 3D Medical Imaging

It’s no secret that the medical community faces a shortage of physicians, sometimes due to the intense, difficult nature of medical school.

Exploring America’s Opioid Epidemic

Chances are you or someone you know has been prescribed opioids. Opioids are any number of substances, legal or otherwise, used to alleviate moderate to severe pain. If you’ve ever incurred a serious injury or are recovering from surgery, your doctor more than likely handed you a prescription for this medicine with a specific set of guidelines on when and how to take them.

When used properly, opioids are an effective and generally safe method for short-term management of more serious types of pain—they reduce suffering and invoke a level of sedation to help patients keep their minds off the pain.

Recently, though, opioids have b


A Jello-Like Gel Shows Promise for Pain Treatment

What if a drug was flexible enough to reach the site of a wound or illness, give relief when necessary, stop releasing medicine when pain is gone, and start releasing it again if an illness progresses or discomfort re emerges? Well, it’s here, and this gel substance, a hydrogel likened to Jello, is showing a lot of promise.

Researchers at the Laboratory for Accelerated Medical Innovation at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital developed the substance and it works by being drawn to inflammations sites in the body. The gel senses inflammation and slowly delivers medicine to fight ailments such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis and mucositis, for example.

The beauty about the gel is it can be injected directly the site of pain and  it responds to the level of inflammation around it, delivering the appropriate dosage.  So if an arthritic patient gets injected with this gel, the medication will activate only in response to the site causing an episode,


Study: One-Third of Antibiotics Prescribed Unnecessarily

As antibiotic resistance continues to become a growing problem for public health, new research finds that that may be a taller task than health officials originally thought.

A recent study found that as much as 30 percent of all antibiotics were prescribed unnecessarily in physician offices and clinics.

It was discovered that  patients were are often prescribed antibiotics for mild health issues in cases where it was clearly unnecessary.

For example, some patients were prescribed antibiotics for the common cold, which is a virus that can be treated differently.

More than 184,000 patient visits to doctors and clinics in 2010 and 2011 were reviewed for the study. It was determined that for  506 prescriptions written for every 1,000 people, 353 were appropriate. In sum, that's an estimated 47 million prescriptions each year that are unnecessarily prescribed. 

However, the reason, in part, for this is attributed to phy


Study: Medical Error Related Deaths 3rd Largest Cause of Death, Flying Under the Radar

We all know what healthcare is supposed to be about --- saving lives and treating people.

So it can be a real rude awakening to hear that medical errors are being reported as the third highest cause of death in the United States, according to research at Johns Hopkins University.

The study, which was led by Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Martin Makary, found that over 250,000 people die from medical errors each year. That follows just behind heart disease and cancer, which claim about 600,000 lives collectively.

How does this happen?

Well, it’s not a complete mystery to those of us who are in the industry like nurses, doctors and everyone else who gets an upclose view to the chaos can ensue behind the scenes.

Healthcare professionals aren’t infallible; anything from mixed up dosages and incorrect medication to surgical complications can happen more often than some are willing to admit.

The thing is, it’s very d


First Uterus Transplant Surgery in U.S. Could Make Pregnancy a Possibility for Many

Some years ago, a surgery like this may not have even been conceivable, but the first uterus transplant in the U.S. has been successfully completed at the Cleveland hospital.

A 26-year-old woman underwent a nine-hour surgery toward the end of February and she is in stable condition, the New York Times reports. No further details have been released about this patient, but she provides a beacon of hope for countless women.

This surgery is a life changing advancement for women who are born without a uterus or women who had theirs removed under different circumstances.

There are about 50,000 U.S. women who are considered to be transplant uterus candidates.

Having this surgery available means they may be able to become pregnant and have children.

The way the procedure works is surgeons must remove a uterus and the small uteri


FDA Approves First 3D Printed Drug

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

The world of 3D printing has given us a lot of different things, from toys to replicas of organs, but the industry has officially ventured into a new frontier of medicine.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the nation’s first 3D Printed prescription drug.

Spritam, developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, is a dissolvable tablet that will be used to treat epilepsy children and adults suffering from seizures. They've patented their use of 3D Printing as a process called Zipdose, which allows for more drugs to be put into each tablet. 

Chemist Lee Cronin, a professor at the University of Glasgow,  likened the process of designing 3D medicine to following a


All Painkillers Aren’t Created Equal: When to use Tylenol vs. Advil

If you think Tylenol, Advil and all the other over-the-counter painkillers are one and the same, you couldn’t be more wrong, according to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal.

While they’re all generally used for different types of discomfort in the body, certain brands work best for particular ailments, based on their active ingredients.

For example, if you have a headache,Tylenol and other brands with acetaminophen are considered your best bets, because it has less side effects.

If you’re suffering from an injury or tough pain like arthritis, menstrual cramps or a toothache, Advil and other medications with ibuprofen as the active ingredient are the


New Year's Resolution: Be A Better Nurse To Your Patients


Is one of your new year’s resolutions to be a better nurse to your patient? Whether you planned on improving your nurse-patient relations or this article was the first time you’ve thought about that in a while, there are some simple improvements you can make in your day-to-day interactions with patients that won’t require additional continuing education courses or any major effort on your part--just a few tweaks in your approach.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t already incorporate good practices, but sometimes, it’s easy to get jaded and look at your patients as just another body in your hospital.

Here are a few tips to humanize your patients, have them feel better about their experience at your facility, and have you feel better about yourself.

Basics – Know Their Names, + 1 Factoid

This may be really obvious to some, but it’s easy to forget little patient details when


Paralyzed Man Walks Again After “Nose” Cells Repair Spinal Cord

The spinal cord is responsible for communication between the brain and the central nervous system, which is the command center for our body’s actions. It’s what allows us to pick up a toothbrush and apply some toothpaste when we think, “time to brush our teeth”.

It’s what allows us to roll our eyes when a patient (or doctor) says something idiotic. That’s why damage to the spinal cord often results in paralysis much like the case of Derek Fidyka, a man who became paralyzed and lost sensation from the chest down after getting stabbed in the back repeatedly in 2010. The attack left him with a seven millimeter gap in his spinal cord.

While spinal cord damage is generally believed to be permanent for the two to three million who suffer from it world-wide, 40-year-old Fidyka is now walking again, thanks to a first-of-its-kind procedure that used “nose” cells to repair spinal cord injuries.

The olfactory system,


Polymer Gel Heals Wounds, Stops Bleeding Instantly, Called Band-Aid of the Future

Courtesy of Flickr.com

Courtesy of Flickr.com

What if a band-aid not only covered a wound, but stopped the bleeding and accelerated the healing process in mere seconds?

 Well that technology is here and could possibly be available in a store near you, in the distant future.

It’s called VetiGel, a flexible polymer gel that is applied to or injected into a wound and begins the process of clotting to stop bleeding. Essentially, it could stop traumatic bleeding immediately.

Toted as the band-aid of the future, VetiGel was created by Joe Landolina, the CEO and co-founder the New York based biotech company Suneris.

Landolina got the idea to use a polymer as a way to seal up a wound as a freshman at New York University. He had no idea that it would work so well. 

The polymer is made from material extracted from the cells of plants. When it’s applied to wounds, it works like Lego blocks, building off of what’s already there. It changes shape and color, &ldquo


Lab Grown Vaginas Implanted in Humans? Believe It

Scientists have implanted a lab-grown vagina in humans, a medical first.

The patients, four teenaged girls, donated their own tissue to be used for the development of the vagina. 

These girls suffer from Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome. 

The vaginas were implanted in June 2005 and October 2008.

Their yearly follow-up visits concluded that the implants were a success with the lab-grown organs functioning normally, even during sex. Their tissue was acting just like the original tissue.

This study gives hope to patients who need vaginal reconstructive surgeries. It also helps establish the benefits of regenerative medicine strategies when used on human organs and tissues.

However, the operation is still waiting for FDA approval. Once it is rendered safe, it can even be used on men who looking for a s


Antibiotics Boost Growth of Undernourished Children in Developing Countries

Antibiotics improve the height and weight of children on the brink of undernourishment in developing countries.

This is according to the research team at McGill University. They reviewed research literature to examine whether antibiotics have a significant impact on the development of the youngest children from countries with low to middle income class. The paper was published in the British Medical Journal.

Antibiotics did not have any significant effect on the growth of children from the countries of Malawi, Guatemala, Brazil, and Zambia.

But the McGill team wanted to determine if antibiotics have any effect on the development of pre-pubertal children in developing countries. They examined the changes in both the weight and height of the children by looking into the research literature about studies conducted on the treatment of one-month to 12-year old children in seven developing countries. These were children who are smaller both in terms of weight


Biologists Find Antibiotic-Like Properties in Small Peptides

Small peptides kill bacteria in various ways, possibly making it the newest class of antibiotics. This is based on the research conducted by Ruhr-Universitat Bochum (RUB) biologists.

The researchers said that in about a decade, bacteria would have developed resistance against current antibiotics, rendering them ineffective and useless. But according to their study on M196 peptides, which was chosen as the representative of very small peptides that are made of four to as many as 10 amino acids, these peptides were found to be efficient in eliminating bacteria. They are especially effective against multi-resistant pathogens that trigger sepsis.

Earlier studies have proven this, but the group was focused on finding out just how the peptides are able to do it. Only then will this potential antibiotic has a shot at being approved as a new drug, like how it is with other new substances d