Zombies, pills for old age and GMO people. Top medical discoveries in 2018


Sitting in line at the clinic with a newly introduced paper card (because the old one was lost), it is hard to believe that medicine is one of the most rapidly developing areas. And yet it is. In 2018, they invented and experienced so much that the heart rejoices and the soul sings. And how much will be in 2019!


  • Lung Bio-Engineered Lung Transplantation
  • Birth of the first genetically modified children
  • First healthy primate cloning
  • Implantation of grown goat intervertebral discs
  • Immunotherapy for multiple sclerosis
  • Nobel Prize for the new principle of cancer treatment
  • Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease with Stem Cells
  • Editing the Genome to Treat Hunter’s Disease
  • Creation of the first “organism on the chip”
  • Tests of anti-aging drugs
  • We treat the flu in one day
  • Tablets instead of exercises and contraception gel
  • Goodbye Alzheimer
  • Heart patches
  • Advanced robotic limbs

Top Medical Achievement 2018

1. Transplantation of bioengineered lungs to the pig 

In the summer, American doctors reported successful laboratory experience in growing and transplanting bioengineering lungs. Simplified, it looks like this: the animals took their own cells and grew the lungs from them. The organs were transplanted into four pigs. Experience has shown that the lungs are perfectly accustomed and did not cause serious problems to their owners.

Those are the easiest. Photo: Telegraph

Attempts to grow the lungs from the cells have been made for a long time, but scientists faced a serious problem – such organs were poorly supplied with blood due to insufficiently developed vascular network. However, thanks to a new technique, this was avoided.

Bioengineering organs will allow a person to change parts of the body as needed, and there is no need to fear the risk of rejection. This, however, is still far away, but the results of the work of Americans are encouraging.

2. Birth of the first genetically modified children

At the end of the year, a sensational news spread all over the world – the Chinese professor announced the birth of the world’s first genetically modified children, girls Lulu and Nana. Thanks to the doctors now they are not threatened with HIV infection, because babies have innate immunity to the terrible disease.

After the statement of the Chinese doctor was followed by a series of events in which it is possible to shoot some spy thriller. In the end, many do not believe in the accuracy of the experiment.

The image is illustrative. Source:  dekhnews

– China is a very unusual and interesting country, in which (unlike, for example, from America) there are no hard ethical checks regarding genetic experiments. There are no technological obstacles to genome change. The catch is only ethical. But thanks to the modification of genes, humanity will be able to forget at least about hereditary diseases, 

3. First healthy primate cloning

Long ago (by medical standards), the “authors” of Dolly the sheep claimed that when people learn to clone monkeys, there will be no obstacles left to human cloning. Of course, except for ethical.

And now – a breakthrough. And again from China. At the beginning of the year, a couple of primates were successfully cloned in this country. Previously, similar experiments also took place, but all cases ended in the death of monkeys due to serious complications with their health. This time everything is fine with the test subjects, they do not complain about the diseases and are not going to die.

Photo: La Stampa

The scientists who conducted the experiment are not averse to cloning a person in about six years. It seems that only violent resistance from the rest of the world, concerned about the moral side of the issue, can prevent them.

4. Implantation of grown goat intervertebral discs.

The intervertebral discs are a layer between the vertebrae that is responsible for cushioning when running and walking. Abnormalities in their work are one of the common causes of back and neck pain. In severe cases, a person cannot even breathe without acute pain.

Today, operations are carried out on splicing the vertebrae and implanting artificial prostheses. However, both methods lead to the restriction of human mobility. The decision is again for the bioengineering implant.

The photo is illustrative. Source:

The Americans raised an intervertebral disc from goat cells and transplanted it. This is a large animal whose spine is comparable in size to a human one. As a result, the goat showed no signs of restricted mobility. Spine as good as new! Excellent result, but far from experiences with people.

5. Immunotherapy for multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a terrible disease, contrary to the name that has nothing to do with the so-called senile sclerosis. The bottom line is this. In order to give a command to this or that movement, the brain sends impulses through the nerve fibers. Through the same fibers, impulses go to the brain, thanks to which we sense the outside world. Impulses must run very quickly, for this, the processes of neurons are wrapped in a special fatty tissue – the myelin sheath. If without it the signals travel at a speed of 1 m / s, then with it – 100 m / s.

In multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath is destroyed by the immune system. The cause of the disease has not yet been reliably established, but it is believed that it is somehow related to the Epstein-Barr virus. Probably, the immune system wants to deal with this virus, but for some reason attacks the myelin sheath. The patient’s visual acuity decreases, coordination is disturbed, sleep is lost, various mental disorders are observed.

Symptoms can be slowed down, but on the whole, the disease is still considered incurable. It is “for the time being”, because in November, scientists reported on the encouraging results of immune therapy aimed at destroying Epstein-Barr virus in the nervous tissue. The people who participated in the study did not just stop the development of multiple sclerosis – the disease began to recede!

– It is believed that when humanity overcomes cancer, the last stronghold will remain autoimmune – the most difficult and difficult to treat the disease. And it turned out that immunotherapy in principle can affect autoimmune diseases. This is a huge breakthrough, which previously could not have dreamed of!

6. Nobel Prize for the new principle of cancer treatment

Cancer remains the scourge of humanity. Already today, oncology does not sound like a sentence, but there is a chance that the terrible scourge will soon be able to get rid of forever.

In October, it became known that the Nobel Prize in Medicine was deservedly awarded to the American James Pi Ellison and the Japanese Tasuku Hongjo. Read more about their discovery here . In short, scientists have learned to “deceive” cancer cells, which, after treatment, are not capable of preventing the immune system from destroying them.

Image source: Quanta Magazine

The discovery was made in the 1990s. For a long time, the scientific community has been waiting for, when such an epoch-making event will be judged according to merit. And here the Nobel committee “gave the go-ahead.” This is a kind of recognition that cancer immunotherapy has really made revolutionary changes in oncology.

– I am sure that in 10 years such medicine will be waiting for us, that we will remember the horror of 2018 and wonder how we could live like that. In Belarus, in my opinion, such therapy will become available in 3-5 years.

7. Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease with Stem Cells

Parkinson’s disease usually affects older people. A bent figure, a tremor, slow walking with small steps are all one of the obvious manifestations of the disease. Most often, it occurs after the death of certain neurons responsible for the production of dopamine, which plays an important role in transmitting signals between brain cells.

In November, Japan announced the beginning of trials for treating Parkinson’s disease with stem cells. Earlier animal experiments have shown that the introduction of stem cells into a specific area of ​​the brain leads to their transformation into neurons, which again begin to produce dopamine.

Today, the symptoms of the disease are successfully suppressed with the help of electrodes implanted into the brain.However, this is a rather dangerous and not always predictable operation.

And now it’s time for people. The Japanese conducted a similar procedure on seven patients with Parkinson’s disease. It remains to wait for the results, but the doctors are inspired. They are confident that it will not be about the suppression of symptoms, but about the complete cure and elimination of the very cause of the disease.

– In the 1990s, there was a similar technique, but at that time they had not yet learned how to “clean” stem cells. As a result, the experiments led to disastrous consequences associated with oncology. The Japanese took into account the shortcomings and now promise treatment without complications. By the way, a similar study will take place in Belarus this year.

8. Editing the Genome to Treat Hunter Syndrome

Hunter’s disease occurs due to improper metabolism of fat and carbohydrates. Such patients have a specific appearance – coarse features, sparse teeth, thick skin, low voice. They often have SARS.

A man with Hunter syndrome. Source:

In 2017, scientists changed the genome of a person with signs of Hunter syndrome. Alas, the experiment did not lead to improvement. However, a year later, the treatment was modified and clinical trials were much more successful. They are currently ongoing.

9. Creation of the first “organism on the chip”

Imagine such a picture: a computer board with a mash from different human tissues lies on the table. It looks so-so, but for the entire medical industry it is a pleasant and important novelty.

In the spring, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology introduced the so-called “organism on a chip” – a set of cells of various organs applied to a microchip (brain, lungs, liver, heart, uterus, intestines, kidneys, pancreas, skin, skeletal muscles).

Why do you need it? All in order to study the effect of new drugs on different organs. For example, so scientists can make sure that the medicine for the heart does not affect the liver and kidneys. All information is displayed in real time on the computer to which the chip is connected.

10. Testing anti-aging drugs

Aging is one of the main “problems” of humanity. One of the leading specialists in the field of gerontology is the British Aubrey De Gray, the author of the SENS concept (“The strategy for achieving negligible aging by engineering methods”). The scientist identified seven types of damage that with age lead to the characteristic of the elderly diseases – atherosclerotic, cardiovascular, Alzheimer’s disease, and so on. It is believed that by affecting each of the seven damage, humanity will learn to inhibit the mechanisms of aging and even rejuvenate the body.

Aubrey Dee Gray This guy knows a lot about rejuvenation. Photo: PRLog

Clinical trials under the SENS concept have been carried out for a long time Among them are stem cell transplantation. But another crucial step is the destruction of senescent cells, which are also known as zombie cells.

The normal life cycle of any cell of the body ends with apoptosis – programmed self-destruction. However, for some of them, the self-destruction mechanism does not work. Such particles have two ways: some begin to divide uncontrollably and develop into tumors, while others freeze in a certain current state. The first is found and quickly destroyed by a healthy immune system. But zombie cells secrete certain biologically active substances that poison nearby healthy cells. Senescent cells accumulate from a very early age and ultimately lead to various inflammatory processes and age-related diseases.

Illustration: Nature

Since the last century, physicians have been testing and studying senolithics – various drugs that destroy and remove zombie cells from the body. In 2018, the United States finally began testing such “old-age drugs” in humans. Senolitic is injected into the cavity of the patient with arthrosis of the knee joint. The complex anti-aging effect cannot be achieved in this way, but at least the point effectiveness of the preparations will be visible.

What to expect from 2019

This year will continue a huge number of studies – you will not list them all. 

1. We treat the flu in one day.

It is expected that this year the Japanese medicine that will cure the flu in one day will go on sale. Drink one pill – and the flu virus in the body is gone! A license for the distribution of the miracle drug has already received the Swiss pharmacological company Roche.

But there is a nuance. The medicine really kills most flu viruses almost instantly. However, the human body still triggers the immune response to the infection, so the symptoms of the disease cannot be avoided – for five days, a practically healthy person will sneeze and toil with fever. But you can not worry about the infection of others, and the symptoms will be easier.

2. Tablets instead of exercises and contraception gel

This year will be large-scale tests of the gel for male contraception. Rub it into shoulders and palms – that’s all, no children! This method promises to be safe, simple and without long-term effect. Also in 2019, they will start testing pills that can replace physical exercise. One pill instead of an hour of workouts at the gym? Why not!

3. Farewell to Alzheimer

Another old disease, for the treatment of which physicians are tightly taken. They are about to begin clinical trials on people of technology that is able to restore the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. This is expected to help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. In any case, animal testing has shown tremendous results with full recovery.

4. Heart patches

The Japanese are planning to begin human trials on the so-called heart patches. Stem cells will be applied to the skeleton and then placed on the affected areas of the heart (for example, after a heart attack). Expected full restoration of damaged tissue.

5. Advanced robotic limbs

At present, even the most futuristic prostheses read movements from the remnants of the muscles. In 2019, the first artificial hands should appear, which will be controlled directly through the nervous system. If possible, they will be minimally inferior to natural limbs.

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