The Greatest Medical Advances of the 21st Century . . . So Far
Despite still being relatively young, the 21st century has already been a time of radical change in many areas - not least medical science. From genomes to hormones, the past decade has seen a number of significant breakthroughs and new discoveries improving understanding and treatment of a variety of conditions.
The world of medicine is always changing as doctors and scientists deepen their understanding of the human body. One of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of recent times concerned the body at its most fundamental level, with the mapping of the human genome. Although the project received some criticism for its cost and perceived failure to bring about the medical revolution that some of its most dogmatic supporters claimed it would, the knowledge gained may indeed prove pivotal to curing a number of illnesses and extending the human lifespan in coming years.
One of the other significant advances brought about by the Human Genome Project was the open nature of the research, with the latest discoveries being periodically posted online for all to see. By essentially inviting the general public inside the laboratory for the first time, medical science demonstrated just how important the World Wide Web could be for deepening general understanding of science and medicine.
This greater availability of information online has been a benefit to doctors and patients alike - with practitioners being able to easily and quickly confirm diagnoses or treatments, and patients who may not have access to medical books being able to view reliable information to aid self-diagnosis online, informing them of how to best go about seeking treatment.
Among the biggest success stories of medicine over the last 10 years has been the drop in deaths from heart disease, as the vital organ becomes ever better understood. Long gone are the days when a heart attack was likely to mean the end of it all, and with new drugs like Crestor, Lipitor, Mevacor and Simvastatin slowing the progress of artery narrowing, the chances of patients making a full recovery are much greater.
Not all medical advances are met with support from the public however, and one of the most contentious and divisive issues of the century so far has been stem cell research. While clear success has already been achieved in this exciting new field - such as allowing doctors to arrest the progress of fatal diseases that were previously incurable by genetically manipulating cells - stem cell research may lead to greater breakthroughs in the near future, including providing a possible cure for conditions like diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
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