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28 December 2018

7 big medical breakthroughs of 2018

We look back at some of the biggest medical breakthroughs of 2018.

Medical technology is marching ahead, helping doctors cure chronic diseases and conditions. Here are some of the top medical breakthroughs published by Health24 during 2018. 

1. World's first baby born from transplanted womb of dead donor

Wombs from deceased donors have been transplanted before, but this is the first case where the procedure led to pregnancy and birth. While the process is still experimental and the difference between uterine transplants from live and deceased donors needs more research, this success greatly increases the pool of donors for those in need of a uterus for conception. 

ultrasound scan photo

2. Breakthrough in lung cancer treatment cuts risk of dying by 50%

In May this year, two new studies found that a drug designed to trigger a patient’s immune system may significantly boost survival for those battling lung cancer. The treatment also drove down the risk of the cancer spreading, added the research team from NYU Langone Health in New York City.

3. Scientists may have discovered a way to prevent peanut allergies

Could peanut allergies soon be thing of the past? Researchers may have the answer to help cure peanut allergy, which is one of the most fatal food allergies. A biopharmaceutical company, Aimmune Therapeutics, based in Brisbane, California, said a major study showed that its daily capsules of peanut flour helped desensitise children to nuts.

4. Could this be a future cancer vaccine?

This medical breakthrough of 2018 may be one step closer in the eternal quest to conquer cancer. A shot containing two compounds that stimulate the immune system was injected directly into tumours, killing the cancerous cells.

And besides that, a further study in April also suggested that researchers may be closer to making this vaccine a reality. Additional trails are planned.

vaccination vials

5. How the new Apple watch can save your life 

You can now wear an ECG on your wrist and possibly save yourself from cardiac arrest. The Apple Watch Series 4 boasts impressive upgrades, including high intensity sensors that are able to detect when a user falls. Should the person not move for more than a minute, an alert is sent and emergency services are contacted immediately.

The ECG function can detect arterial fibrillation and heart failure through sophisticated sensors.

Apple watch

6. Man with three faces: Frenchman gets second face transplant

A second face transplant was performed on the same patient – a medical first. Dr Laurent Lantieri of the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris first transplanted a new face onto Jerome Hamon in 2010. Unfortunately he got ill in 2015 after the anti-rejection medicine was jeopardised by other medicine he was taking at the time. The transplanted face had to be removed. But in January 2018, a second face transplant was successfully carried out. 

7. Three paralysed patients now walk thanks to breakthrough technology 

Swiss researchers reported earlier this year that the science of spinal stimulation has been fine-tuned to such an extent that three formerly paralysed patients can now walk.

Implanted electrodes that provide direct electrical stimulation to the spinal cord have been shown to allow movement of previously paralysed legs. This method is, however, still not seen as a cure for paralysis, but a whole new way rehabilitation can be conducted, said the lead researchers. 

Image credit: iStock 

 
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