The human body is fascinating in many ways. One of those ways is its ability to heal itself. And that is not rooted in baseless conjecture but rather a reality substantiated in multiple studies, including one published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It found that the body has a tremendous capacity for self-healing and regeneration after injuries and pathogen invasions, noting that a fractured bone will naturally regrow and heal following a fracture. Another example the study cites is how the skin can naturally heal after being cut. That said, the human body is hardly omnipotent. Sometimes, it needs a little help to recover from injury, infection, and disease. That’s where breakthroughs in modern-day medicine, science, and technology come into the picture.
While the immune system can protect us from many forms of infection and disease, it alone is no match for smallpox, an acute contagious disease caused by the variola virus. The same applies to chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, measles, and many other diseases once common in the U.S. and other parts of the world. That brings us to vaccines, one of the first inventions that revolutionized medicine and helped save countless lives. For those unaware, an English Doctor named Edward Jenner is recognized as the creator of the first known vaccine.
In 1796, he discovered that exposure to cowpox, also known as vaccinia, helped lower an individual’s chances of contracting smallpox. That discovery led to cowpox variolation, which eventually eradicated smallpox and set the stage for two of the modern-day inoculation processes we use today: traditional and mRNA vaccines. In addition to smallpox, individuals who have received both of these vaccines are less likely to be diagnosed with the following diseases:
It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when a patient would undergo surgery without general anesthesia. But before there was ether, that was, unfortunately, what many had to do. In 1846, William Thomas Green Morton, a renowned American dentist, discovered that ether, an inhalable gas, provided safe and effective anesthesia during dental procedures. After his discovery, ether became the go-to for surgical procedures before being supplanted by chloroform. Both ether and chloroform are no longer acceptable forms of anesthesia today. However, they did pave the way for Propofol, etomidate, and ketamine, all of which are intravenous (IV) sedative-hypnotic agents commonly used today to induce general anesthesia. In some cases, these sedative-hypnotic agents are combined with the following to supplement their effects:
While they might be commonplace today, medical imaging equipment was not always part of the medical world. The X-ray, a form of electromagnetic radiation, was invented in 1895 by German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rӧntgen. He accidentally discovered this technological marvel while experimenting with electrical currents through glass cathode-ray tubes. For those unfamiliar with the technology, X-ray machines pass X-ray beams, a form of ionizing radiation, through the body to produce images. These images make it easier to diagnose broken bones, dislocated joints, and even tumors. They also help with assessing the health and function of internal organs. The discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Conrad Rӧntgen led to the use of ultrasound machines in medicine in 1955, the computed tomography (CT) scanner in 1967, and magnetic resonance image (MRI) machines in 1973.
There was a time when organ failure was considered a precursor to death, but organ transplants made it so that didn’t have to be the case. The ability to transplant organs from one individual to another to preserve life is otherworldly. According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Joseph Murray and Dr. David Hume, two renowned physicians in Boston, Massachusetts, performed the first-ever successful organ transplant in December 1954. The two doctors placed a donor kidney into a patient whose kidneys had stopped working. Although there were many prior attempts, this was the first one in which the recipient survived the operation. The NIH article noted that Dr. Joseph Murray and Dr. David Hume successfully overcame many challenges that other doctors could not, such as vascular anastomosis, placement of the kidney, and immune response. Their success led to the first successful lung transplant in 1963 and the first successful heart transplant in 1967.
For the roughly 50,000 adults who struggle with a human growth hormone (HGH) deficiency, prefilled HGH pens are a godsend. Novo Nordisk, a Danish multinational pharmaceutical company, introduced the first cartridge-based HGH pen system in Europe and Japan in 1999 before finally launching them in the U.S. in 2000. To say these pens were a game changer for the thousands of people with low HGH levels is a gross understatement. Before that, the process of administering injectable HGH hormone replacement drugs was a cumbersome process that most people dreaded. Some of the older ways of administering HGH drugs included using the following:
These older devices used to administer HGH hormone replacement drugs were not user-friendly, and some just flat-out did not work. It was also exceedingly difficult to receive an accurate dose of medication with these devices. These frustrations ended when Novo Nordisk, the maker of Sogroya and Norditropin, created a prefilled and preloaded pen delivery device that simplified the administration of HGH. After Novo Nordisk, other drug manufacturers introduced their versions of pens to the market. Long story short, these devices helped many people become compliant when it came to taking HGH drugs, which, in turn, lowered their chances of struggling with symptoms typical of an HGH deficiency. Today, HGH pens are the gold standard for the administration of such drugs.
In summary, many of the breakthroughs and advancements in medicine, science, and technology, coupled with the body’s immune system, are making it possible for many people to sidestep or heal from disease and infection and enjoy an overall better quality of life than they otherwise would. And as the years go by, we will likely see more and more of these breakthroughs and advancements.