Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coolest Medical Inventions and Discoveries of 2009

In terms of discoveries and inventions, there have been many incredible strides made in the field of medicine and, as 2009 draws to a close, we thought it would be interesting to look back.  Here are the ones that really stood out to us for one reason or another, either because they were incredible important or just incredibly cool.

1. Mapping the Genetic Code of Cancer
This year scientists mapped the code for two types of cancer (lung and skin) which allow for a greater understanding of these cancers and will help scientists develop better detection and treatment techniques. The International Cancer Genome Consortium is continuing to work on cracking the code for other types of cancer as well.

2.    Artificial Retina
A study in the United States of microchip technology implanted into the retina of vision impaired subjects is “the first step toward a really bionic eye".  A person with impaired vision wears a pair of glasses that has a camera which transmits what the wearer is “seeing” to the microchip.  The microchip then stimulates the retina electrically, which communicates that image to the brain.

3.    Tiny Bubbles for Detecting Cancer
This new microbubble technology allows doctors that are performing breast cancer surgeries to discover within minutes if patients have cancerous glands in their armpits that also need to be removed. Previously patients had to wait until a single node had been removed and tested before going in for a second operation, which can often be very traumatic for the patient.

4.    HIV Vaccine
The results of a three-year long clinical trial were published this year and showed promising results in the search for a viable vaccine. The results showed that rates of infection were reduced by more than 25% in the vaccinated group than in the placebo group. A great step forward.

5.    Bionic Arm
This bionic arm, which was completed in 2008 but unveiled this year is Terminator-esque to be sure but also represents how far this type of technology has come.  In an experiment an amputee successfully used his mind to control the arm and perform complex tasks. Pretty cool stuff. 

Don’t see the invention or discovery that you think is the most important of the year?  Then let us know.  Sign into the comment section below and tell us what you think should have made it on our list.

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