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BEYOND LOCAL: Here's some of the biggest medical breakthroughs of the last decade – SooToday.com

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The last 10 years have seen an onslaught of new medical discoveries and technologies, with many of them bordering on science fiction.

These discoveries have changed the way people live now and how they will live in the future.

Here are some of the biggest advances in medical science in the last decade — though this is by no means a complete list.

CRISPR gene editing

CRISPR is the name of a technique used to quickly and easily edit DNA — either snipping off genes entirely or replacing them with different ones.

The basic mechanism was discovered decades ago, but the technology has taken off in the last few years after it became more precise and easier to use. Right now, scientists are experimenting with editing the DNA of mosquitos to make them resistant to malaria or to make all offspring male, meaning they’re less likely to pass the disease on to humans.

Scientists have also treated sickle-cell anemia in mice and are testing a cure for an inherited form of blindness, and these are just some of many, many experiments underway.

Yes, we’re editing DNA now. Experts warn this won’t be without consequences. Studies have already shown that some CRISPR-edited cells get damaged and are missing a gene, leading to a potentially higher risk of cancer.

Then there are the ethical issues.

In 2018, a Chinese researcher claimed to have edited the genes of two unborn twin girls with the goal of immunizing them against HIV.

His experiments were not published in journals, nor were full results ever released, raising questions about the experiment. His claim was also roundly denounced by pretty much every medical body as well as the Chinese government.

But can we shut the door on human DNA editing? We’ll find out over the next decade.

PrEP

Medications to treat HIV have been around for a while, and they’re very effective: drugs can actually reduce a person’s “viral load” — the amount of virus circulating in their blood — to undetectable levels. This means that it’s very unlikely, even impossible, for them to pass the virus on to others if the medication is used correctly. It’s also vastly extended the expected lifespan for someone following an HIV diagnosis.

In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of an HIV drug for prophylactic purposes — meaning people could use it to actually keep from catching HIV in the first place. The drug, Truvada, which was approved by Health Canada for HIV prevention in 2016, and subsequent generic versions are now being used by high-risk populations across Canada.

So far, prescriptions for PrEP have lagged behind public health officials’ hopes — which might be due to spotty drug coverage and the high cost of the medication — but it has made a difference. A recent study found that PrEP use was associated with a significant reduction in the number of new infections in an Australian state.

Ebola vaccines and treatments

While we’re talking about infectious diseases, it’s definitely worth noting another big one: Ebola.

Ebola outbreaks are ongoing in a few African countries, mostly the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. In 2014, a huge outbreak across West Africa killed more than 11,000 people.

It’s a nasty disease. It kills more than half of people who catch it, often through internal and external hemorrhagic bleeding.

However, over the last decade, we’ve seen clinical trials for various vaccines and even treatments for the disease, which are showing promising results. One vaccine, Ervebo, has even passed the clinical trial phase and was approved for use in November. It’s now being stockpiled for use in future outbreaks.

Although Ebola generally occurs far away from Canada, there is a Canadian connection: some vaccines and treatments were actually developed by researchers at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.

Artificial pancreas

The term “artificial pancreas” is a bit of a misnomer, according to Diabetes Canada, but it’s the popular term for a device approved in the U.S. in 2016 and in Canada in 2018 to help treat patients with Type 1 diabetes. It’s more formally called a “closed-loop” system.

People with Type 1 diabetes no longer produce insulin. They used to have to take injections of insulin throughout the day to regulate their blood sugar and cut their risk of developing longer-term health problems like nerve issues that can lead to amputation or retinal problems leading to blindness.

Many patients have since moved on to more modern insulin pumps and testing devices.

This device makes things even easier. It first reads a patient’s insulin level, then decides via algorithm how much insulin to give them, shooting “microdoses” of the drug into their bloodstream automatically. The patient still has to add extra insulin in a few other circumstances, such as before a meal, but studies report these systems often lead to better control of blood sugar levels.

Diabetes advocates are looking forward to the development of a fully automatic system or a true “artificial pancreas” that requires no intervention from the patient, and also for better insurance coverage of these advanced devices.

3D-printed prosthetics

One of the coolest new technologies is 3D printing, in which an object is created bit by bit from a computer pattern. And it didn’t take long for medical researchers to see the potential.

Doctors have created a handful of 3D-printed organs and body parts, but over the last decade, 3D-printed prosthetics have really taken off.

Need a new hand? Just visit a website and you can download a blueprint for free, along with detailed instructions on how to size and build it. Seriously. There has been an open-source community for years, run largely by volunteers. The organization e-NABLE estimates that thousands of people around the world are now using these prosthetics.

They’re not perfect: the devices can break, and e-NABLE recommends that people work closely with a health-care provider as they use their new prosthetic. But they’re much cheaper than traditional models and can be made much faster, putting prosthetics in reach for more people around the world.

Experts imagine that the medical applications for 3D printing will continue to expand, with complex organs like a replacement heart possibly coming down the road.

– Global News

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Sask. Party first to 61 candidates – Prince Albert Daily Herald

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With its last nominee acclaimed Saturday, the Saskatchewan Party became the province’s first this election cycle to nominate a full slate of candidates.

There are 61 constituencies in Saskatchewan. The opposition NDP has 45 candidates listed on its website so far. The progressive conservatives are next, with 15, while the Saskatchewan Green Party has at least 13 — 11 listed on its website and another two by Elections Saskatchewan. This election’s newcomer, the Buffalo Party (formerly Wexit Saskatchewan) has nominated five and the Saskatchewan Liberals four.

Three independent candidates have also been listed by Elections Saskatchewan — Nestor Mryglod in Regina Wascana Plains, Trevor Wowk in Regina Lakeview and Rolf Hartloff in Regina Elphinstone-Centre.

Information about becoming an independent candidate is available on the Elections Saskatchewan Website.

The latest Sask. Party candidate — and the 61st to be nominated ahead of October’s provincial election, is Darren Deschambeault in Cumberland.

In a press release, he said he is looking forward to having representation from the region in Scott Moe’s government.

“Providing strong leadership and a real voice for the people of Cumberland in the legislature will help with a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Deschambeault was born and raised in Cumberland House, and currently works as a communications consultant for an oil and gas company.  He disclosed a 2001 impaired driving conviction that he has since received a pardon for.

Deschambeault will go up against incumbent NDP MLA Doyle Vermette and Saskatchewan progressive conservative candidate Dean Foster.

“With a full slate of 61 candidates nominated, Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party team will be meeting voters in every part of the province to present their plan for a strong Saskatchewan and a strong economic recovery from the pandemic,” the Sask. Party said.

Locally, nominees are as follows:

Rosthern-Shellbrook

• Scott Moe, Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

Saskatchewan Rivers

• Nadine Wilson, Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

• Lyle Whitefish, NDP

• Shaun Harris, Progressive Conservative

Melfort

• Todd Goudy , Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

• Lorne Schroeder, NDP

• Dave Waldner, Buffalo

Batoche

• Delbert Kirsch, Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

• Lon Borgerson (NDP)

Prince Albert Carlton

• Joe Hargrave, Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

• Troy Parenteau, NDP

Prince Albert Northcote

• Nicole Rancourt, NDP (incumbent)

• Alanna Ross, Saskatchewan Party

• Sarah Kraynick, Green Party

The provincial election is set for October 26.

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Active COVID-19 cases up slightly in Red Deer and Central zone – rdnewsnow.com

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By Sheldon Spackman

Tuesday Update

Sep 22, 2020 5:06 PM

Alberta is reporting 150 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The latest numbers released by the province show 16,889 cases of coronavirus identified in the province since the pandemic began, with the number of active cases now at 1,565 – up 106 from Monday.

The number of people in hospital with the virus is 51 with nine in intensive care and two more deaths, bringing the death toll to 258. Recovered cases now stand at 15,066.

In the Central zone, the number of active cases is up four to 24, while 629 have recovered. There are currently no hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the Central Zone.

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COVID-19 cases confirmed at two more Winnipeg schools – CTV News

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WINNIPEG —
The province is advising of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at two more schools in Winnipeg.

Tuesday evening, the province announced there had been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at St. Maurice School on September 17 and 18, and at Emerson School on September 16 and 17.

The province said that staff at St. Maurice School, which is a private K-12 school in Winnipeg, and Emerson School, an elementary school in Winnipeg, is working with public health officials.

The WRHA said staff at both schools had immediately closed off the areas used by the infected persons. These areas were not used again until after cleaning and disinfection occurred.

“Be assured that public health investigations to identify individuals who may have been exposed begin within 24 hours of a confirmed laboratory test,” the province said. “Anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted and provided instructions for self-isolation (quarantine). Testing may also be recommended.”

The province said the exposures for both schools are assessed as low risk and the infection was not acquired at the schools.

The province did not say if any cohorts within the schools have been affected.

CTV News will update this story when more information is available.

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