8 Incredible Medical Breakthroughs That Are Right Around The Corner

Winning the war on mortality.

Robot bionic eye

Some of our very first dabblings in the scientific world as a species were in the realms of medicine, and finding ways to improve the length and quality of our lives has been a preoccupation of mankind's since before we developed writing.

The 21st century is a truly exciting time to be alive, with a huge number of breakthroughs happening every day that are bringing us closer to curing some of the most terrible diseases of our time.

Whether it's a life-long condition, a life-threatening illness or a disability, scientists and researchers the world over are taking them all on, one step at a time.

Much of it sounds like some crazy futuristic sci-fi stuff, but with the latest research, it's looking more and more likely that we might be able to control or even cure diseases such as diabetes, cancer and even blindness in the next 10 - 15 years. 

Incredible advances in our understanding of DNA and the human genome have allowed us to develop mind-blowing therapies for genetic disorders and have even led to us being able to grow human body parts in the lab.

We've come a long way since we first discovered which herbs we could use to make ourselves feel better, and things (and people) are only getting better.

8. Cure For Alzheimer's

Robot bionic eye

With life expectancy being constantly shifted further back, more and more research is having to be done in the fight against age-related illness. One of the most devastating of these illnesses is Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's hit the headlines after scientists discovered that there was a possibility that it could be transmittable through a number of medical procedures, including blood transfusions and dental work. As frightening as this news may appear to be, it gives us a whole new unexpected dimension of understanding of the disease and how it occurs. After all, knowing your enemy is the most important step in defeating it.

It should also be noted that it is not possible to "catch" it from contact with someone with the disease.

In Australia, a team of scientists have managed to come up with a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical potential treatment that uses ultrasound technology to break down the neurotoxic amyloid plaques that contribute to memory loss in Alzheimer's patients. The plaques cause the neurofibrils in the brain to "tangle", disrupting the processing of information and producing the symptoms of Alzheimer's. 

In tests on mice, the team were able to restore full memory function to 75% of mice with these build ups, an astonishing result. They say they are planning trials on more complex animals such as sheep and hope to have human trials underway as early as 2017.

Some scientists believe that this might not be the answer, however, as the clearing away of the plaques is just half the battle. The latest research seems to suggest that the abnormal build up of amyloid proteins in the brain are a symptom, not a cause of the disease and the root of the problem lies within the brain's defence mechanisms.

The brain responds to these plaques by switching off the production of new proteins, preventing it from making repairs to itself and speeding the degeneration associated with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and CJD. By using a drug that inhibits the production of the enzyme responsible for this, known as Perk, we could be able to prevent this destructive effect.

If both of these techniques prove to be safe and effective, there is the potential that they could both be used in a two-pronged attack in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

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