Top 5 Medical Technology Breakthroughs of 2012

In 2012, scientists around the world introduced medical breakthroughs that offer hope for a vast number of people. Laboratory discoveries created new medications and treatment options for patients suffering from the common but life threatening conditions of diabetes and hypertension. Continued research also developed a minimally invasive method of treating large, arterial aneurysms. Experimenting with genetic manipulation equipped scientists with the ability to greatly reduce the instances of transmittable diseases caused by insects.

Innovations in Diabetes Medications

Formulations prescribed for individuals diagnosed with diabetes typically provide insulin, stimulate insulation production and secretion by the pancreas, or make cells more receptive to insulin. Often times, despite medication, patients experience difficulty in maintaining blood sugar at recommended levels. A protein known as sodium glucose co-transporter 2, or SGLT2 prevents the kidneys from eliminating all of the excess sugar from the body. SGLT2 inhibitors interfere with this protein, which then allows complete elimination of excess sugar through the urine.

Blood Pressure Control Using Denervation

Studies suggest that up to one third of the adult population in the United States suffers from hypertension. One third of these patients do not respond to standard treatment measures that usually include an array of oral medications. A team of Polish physicians developed a treatment method that eliminates the need for medication. Known as catheter based renal denervation, the 40 minute procedure entails accessing the sympathetic nerves of the kidneys via catheterization. Once the catheter reaches the appropriate location, a physician subjects the area to low powered radio waves, which permanently interferes with nerve transmission and the release of chemicals that contribute to hypertension.

Implants for Treating Brain Aneurysms

When diagnosed with small aneurysms, surgeons often bypass the affected artery using clips or tiny metallic coils. However, bypassing larger arteries is not an option. The FDA recently approved an implantable device constructed of platinum and nickel cobalt that resembles a braided, flexible mesh tube. Surgeons deliver the device through arterial catheterization. Accessing the femoral artery merely requires making a small incision in the region between the lower abdomen and the thigh. Once inserted, the implant acts by protecting the weakened area of the vessel by redirecting blood flow. Blood remaining in the weakened area cannot circulate and clots. In time, without blood flow, the weakened area shrinks, which reduces the likelihood of rupture. Surgeons predict that the implant may prove successful in treating up to 25 percent of aneurysm cases.

Bionic Prostheses

Below the knee amputees may now achieve more natural limb movement through the use of prosthetics equipped with computerized processors and chips. The durable devices weigh a mere four pounds and enable wearers to have more active lives by mimicking natural movement. Each prosthetic contains a battery operated motor that performs the physical movement once achieved by muscles. The devices additionally have Bluetooth connectivity, which allows prosthetic wearers the option of adjusting the device settings as desired.

Neutered Mosquitoes

In an effort at reducing the many diseases carried and transmitted by mosquitoes, scientists discovered a means of altering the DNA of the insects. One method involved sterilizing male mosquitoes, which scientists then released into the Cayman Islands. Mosquitoes in this location typically cause an illness called dengue fever. Approximately three million male insects mated with existing females but were unable to produce offspring. Having a short lifespan and no generational replacements, the population decreased by 80 percent. Scientists continue developing DNA alteration research. One theory under current investigation includes the possibility of creating defects that produce death in larvae. Another project entails finding a means of preventing offspring from transmitting diseases.

Author Bio:
Ben Bailey is a medical transcriptionist and guest author at Health InformationTechnology.

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