By Macaela Mackenzie
From poop pills to painkilling patches, science is in overdrive.
Thanks to science, we now know more about our health than ever before. It seems like there are game-changing medical breakthroughs happening all of the time, but here are seven of the most fascinating advancements, which could just become standard operating procedure someday soon…
1. The Fecal Transplant
Sure, it sounds pretty gross, but popping poop pills can do everything from take on obesity, to treat irritable bowel disease and UTIs, to possibly even fight serious diseases like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. The idea is to get healthy gut bacteria from healthy stool back into bodies that are depleted. It makes sense when you think about it – poop pills are pretty much the ultimate probiotic. And you can’t argue with the numbers: In their current uses, fecal microbiota transplants have a near 90 percent success rate.
2. The Hair Saver
There’s really no bright side to cancer, and losing your hair during chemo just adds insult to injury. But while researchers around the world hustle to cure the devastating disease, there is at least a new FDA-approved treatment that significantly reduces hair loss for patients undergoing chemo. The Dignitana DigniCap Cooling System works by cooling the scalp – which reduces blood flow to the area – so less chemo reaches the hair cells. One side effect down, one disease to go.
3. The Uterus Transplant
In November 2015, the Cleveland Clinic announced that it would be offering the first American clinical trial of an experimental uterus transplant surgery for women born without the organ. Unfortunately, the first surgery failed, and the 26-year-old recipient had to have her new uterus removed due to complications. However, there have been successful uterus transplants done in Sweden, and the Cleveland Clinic is still moving forward with their clinical study, which involves 10 women. If they’re able to get it right, the surgery could help more than 50 000 women in the US who struggle with infertility due to uterine damage or removal.
4. The Double-Chin Eraser
Other than being super useful for making ugly faces on Snapchat, we could pretty much do without our double chins. Luckily, science has figured out a solution. Kybella, which was FDA approved last year, promises to melt away your double chin – literally. The injection causes the fat cells under the skin to dissolve and melt away so you can tighten up that turkey neck.
5. The AIDS-Fighting Condom
We dream of a future where condoms don’t just passively protect us from STDs and unwanted pregnancies. And thanks to some awesome new scientific advances, that future is not far off. Along with condoms that change colours to warn you of the presence of an STD, researchers are currently developing a condom that contains AIDS-fighting antioxidants. The hydrogel rubber will be enhanced with plant-based antioxidants that fight the AIDS virus, so even if the condom breaks, you’re still protected.
6. The Painkiller Patch
In the near future, you won’t have to pop pills every time you have a headache or bad case of cramps. Researchers have developed the first painkiller patch, which delivers Ibuprofen through the skin in a constant dose for up to 12 hours. The other major advantage of the patch is that it delivers the drug to a localised area – so if your shoulder hurts after a strenuous gym sesh, you’ll be able to slap a patch directly onto the sore area for fast relief. The patch is currently set to go to market in the next two to three years.
7. The Bionic Eye
Prosthetic technology and development always feels a little like the stuff of science-fiction. But these bionic body parts are quickly becoming more fact than fiction. One we can’t wait to see is a retinal implant from Second Sight. The aim is to restore vision by reestablishing the link between the retina and the visual cortex in the brain. Pretty sweet stuff. Human trials are scheduled to begin next year.