Greatest medical discoveries 21st
- The first decade of the 21st Century brought a number
of discoveries, mistakes, and medical advances that have influenced
medicine from the patient's bedside to the medicine cabinet.
In some cases these advances changed
deep-seated beliefs in medicine; in others, they opened up possibilities
beyond what doctors thought was possible years ago.
News, in collaboration with MedPage Today reached out to more than 800 specialists as
well as a distinguished panel of medical historians to put together
a top 10 list of medical advances one decade into this
1. Human Genome Discoveries Reach
2000, scientists in with the International Human Genome Project released
a rough draft of the human genome to the public. For the first time
the world could read the complete set of human genetic information and
begin to discover what our roughly 23,000 genes do.
the human genome had become a race of time and money in the 1990s, with
two competitors at the forefront: the government-funded Human Genome
Project, which completed its task in 15 years with more than $3 billion
in taxpayer money, and a private company, Celera Genomics, which was
financed with $100 million and took less than a decade.
2. Doctors and Patients Harness Information
may not even think of it as they sign in with a pad and pen, then sit
in the waiting room while the nurse pulls their file. But doctors say
the Internet and information technology has actually changed the way
they practice medicine for the better. Even doctors need to look things
up from time to time.
3. Anti-Smoking laws and Campaigns
Reduce Public Smoking
is no national smoking ban in the U.S., but 27 states and the District
of Columbia have enacted smoking bans, including seven states that ban
smoking in bars and casinos in recent years.
a report issued last October, the Institute of Medicine said those public
smoking bans have cut exposure to secondhand smoke, which, in turn,
has contributed to a reduction in heart attacks and death from heart
4. Heart Disease Deaths Drop by 40
looking for dramatic improvements in public health need look no further
than the world of heart disease.
mere 25 years ago, when a patient came to a hospital with a heart attack,
the best that could be done was to put the patient in a darkened room,
give him or her morphine for pain and lidocaine, which doctors believed would prevent dangerous
irregular heartbeats, and hope for the best.
attacks, called infarcts, were "big" and the damage to the
heart muscle was often catastrophic, leading eventually to heart failure
5. Stem Cell Research: Laboratory
Breakthroughs and Some Clinical Advances
no area of research has so fired the public imagination and so ignited
the fires of public controversy as that of stem cell research. In reality,
this area has generated more political action than reproducible clinical
advances -- the much-publicized ban on Federal funding of embryonic
stem cell research was rescinded this year.
6.Targeted Therapies for Cancer Expand
With New Drugs
blockbuster-targeted therapies burst on the cancer scene in late 1990s,
and arguably changed forever the concept of cancer treatment, converting
what was often a fatal disease into a chronic illness. The first, Herceptin, is a
drug that targets a type of breast cancer that is characterized by a
specific cancer gene -- an oncogene -- called HER-2.
7. Combination Drug Therapy Extends
the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART,
as this combination therapy approach is called, HIV/AIDS has evolved
into a serious, but chronic disease with survival stretching into decades.
this "cocktail" approach to treatment where drugs are combined
in different ways or different sequences has become a model for treating
other diseases ranging from lung cancer to heart disease.
8. Minimally Invasive and Robotic
Techniques Revolutionize Surgery
years ago a patient would typically be left with a 10-inch scar when
a doctor removed a kidney, but in late 2007 the surgeons at the Cleveland
Clinic began removing kidneys through a single incision in the patient's
9. Study Finds Heart, Cancer Risk
with Hormone Replacement Therapy
July 2002 most doctors treating middle-age women believed that giving
their patients hormones -- either estrogen alone or estrogen combined
with progestin -- would protect their hearts from the ravages of age
that seemed to attack women after menopause.
10. Scientists Peer Into Mind With
has moved from carnival attraction to the halls of medicine with what
is known as a functional MRI.
medical mind-readers are not trying to identify a card randomly selected
from a deck -- they are using sophisticated imaging techniques to map
the way the mind works.
process, often called fMRI, traces the working of neurons -- brain cells --
by tracking changes in the oxygen levels and blood flow to the brain.
The more brain activity in one area, the more oxygen will be used and
the more blood will flow to that area. The patient lies awake inside
an MRI scanner. He or she is asked to perform a simple task, like identifying
a color or solving a math problem.