10 medical advances we can expect in 2018

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Medical technology keeps advancing at a rapid pace. Here are the marvels we can expect to see in 2018.

2017 has seen its fair share of medical breakthroughs and pioneering research.

This has paved the way for several new advances we can expect in 2018.

1. Drones to distribute medicine to isolated areas

With improved technology, remote treatment and better distribution of medical services and medicine is rapidly becoming a reality.

In 2016, it was reported that a start-up company made use of drones to deliver medicine to Rwanda. This practice has since become routine and it is estimated that even more areas will benefit through this method.

2. Curing diseases through gene editing (CRISPR technology)

One of the big medical breakthroughs featured on Health24 this year was the technique to “edit” embryos to avoid genetic diseases.

This method holds potential for the treatment of many diseases, including retinaldegenerative disease and inherited diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and haemophilia.

It was reported in November 2017 that the FDA is set to approve a gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases. Many experts believe that this could pave the way to treatment for even more diseases.

3. ASL patients will be able to communicate with their thoughts

Earlier this year, CNN reported on a new technology that could help decode the thoughts of those with functional brain activity in a completely paralysed body, brought on by a stroke, traumatic injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The initial research was published in the journal PLOS Biology. While the research was only in the beginning stages at the time, it holds great promise for 2018.

4. An artificial pancreas for diabetics

Diabetes is caused by the insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas. It was reported in May 2017 that the first artificial pancreas systems were beginning to infiltrate the market to help diabetics regulate their insulin levels.

As of December 2017, these are still not widely distributed, but we can expect artificial pancreas systems to become more prominent in 2018 and further.

The Hybrid Close-Loop Insulin Delivery System in the first automated artificial pancreas system.

5. Reduction of LDL cholesterol

When powerful cholesterol drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors were approved by the FDA in 2015, many experts hailed it as an enormous breakthrough. The study findings were reassuring, but more studies were needed to see whether this would pave the way for a medication with fewer side-effects than statins.

But new studies have reported good news – earlier in 2017, a 20% reduction in LDL was reported in a study group of 25 982 patients. We can expect this drug to be used more frequently in 2018.

6.Enhanced post-surgery recovery

We know the drill when it comes to surgeries – no eating and drinking beforehand, feeling a bit groggy afterwards and being prescribed pain medication to help with the recovery. But readmissions after surgery remain a problem, not to mention the opioid problem caused by painkiller prescriptions.

New research has been looking at the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocol that accounts for various methods to speed up recovery after surgery. This includes

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