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Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs Of The 21st Century

Published on 27 August, 2013 at 12:00 pm By

Medical science has come a long way since the days when doctors used to diagnose, treat or prevent diseases through certain clinical procedures. Today, medical technology has advanced to a stage where organs are being created in laboratories; almost every malady being controlled if not cured and the patient/doctor have upper hand over most of the situations which were considered deadly earlier. 21st century has seen advancement in technology in such a way that even the most intelligent mind would not have thought it possible a few decades ago. The list of top ten medical breakthroughs of the 21st century is listed here, though they are not all.

10. Artificial liver/kidney grown in Laboratories:

In 2013, Japanese researchers succeeded in creating a functional human liver from stem cells, adding latest feather in the cap of medical achievements of 21st century. With the amazing breakthrough, the hopes of manufacturing artificial organs to save lives have risen high. The induced iPS cells (pluripotent stem) were grown into working human liver in the body of a mouse. On 14 April 2013, BBC carried a report about a kidney grown in a laboratory in USA, which was successfully producing urine.

Artificial liver/kidney grown in Laboratories

9. Advancement in HIV treatment:


AIDS still stands to be one of the deadliest diseases of modern times. Fortunately, the survival rate for those tested positive for HIV has increased a great deal with the latest combination therapy which involves multiple antiretroviral active drugs. The Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy maintains the function of immune system and prevents opportunistic infections that cause death in a patient.

Advancement in HIV treatment

8. Functional MRI:

Functional MRI has made mind reading possible without the help of tarot cards or crystal ball reading. By using the sophisticated imaging techniques, the mapping of the brain has revealed the way it functions. Through functional MRI scientists have been able to peer inside the mind by tracking changes in the brain cells, oxygen levels, blood circulation and functioning of neurons.

Functional MRI

7. Controlling Heart Disease:

Death due to cardiovascular diseases has fallen down by a huge margin in the last decade. If the patient suffering an heart attack is taken to the hospital quick enough, the doctors will be successful in busting the blockage stopping blood circulation with genetically engineered tissue plasminogen activator, commonly known as t-PA. Plaque in the blood vessel can be opened by a stent guided to it through an artery. A new vessel is replaced for the damaged artery through bypass surgery thus increasing the survival rate of heart patients.

Controlling Heart Disease

6. Targeted therapy in Cancer Treatment:

Healthy tissue damage was one of the greatest concerns of cancer treatment. Earlier treating breast cancer meant removal of the whole breast and limp nodes, but today molecularly targeted therapy has made it possible to attack only the cancer cells, arresting the growth of tumor, while leaving the healthy cells intact. Moreover, doctors claim that through targeted therapy, it is possible in near future to reverse the malignant mutations of the cells.

Targeted therapy in Cancer Treatment

5. Cyber Knife:

The robots have arrived with a mission. Unlike the terminators, these knife wielding robots have revolutionized Radio surgery system with minimal invasive alternative to surgery. It has proven more successful than conventional surgical methods in treating both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors. Killing tumors with a dose of high radiation with intense precision, it has given hope to millions of patients around the world.

Cyber Knife

4. Face Transplants:

At one time the favorite theme of science fiction, face transplants are not elusive anymore. Face is the most important anatomy of human body, hence when disfigurement occurs due to burns, accidents or diseases, emotionally it is very traumatizing. Partial face transplant was carried out first in France in 2005; whereas the full replacement of person’s face was carried out by 30 surgeons in Spain in 2010.

Face Transplants

3. Bionic Prosthetics:


The fast pace at which Biotechnology has been growing in the last decade is nothing but a blessing to the people who have lost use of one or other organ or limb of their body. Bionic arm, brain port, Bionic vision and Genium prosthetics have allowed people live life normally as nearly as possible. Replacing biological process through engineering system is not impractical, but a reality today.

Bionic Prosthetics

2. Nanomedicine:

One of the most innovative fields that is thriving in the 21st century is the application of nanotechnology in medicines. The new term Nanomedicine refers to the utilization of nanomaterials, nano, electronic biosensors and nanoparticles to start the corrective procedure at molecular level. With fast progress, there are nearly 130 drugs based on nanotechnology being developed in different parts of the world today.


1. Completion of Human Genome Draft:


One of the most outstanding medical breakthroughs of the 21st century came on 26th June 2000 when the Human Genome draft was completed, laying success stones for the project which was declared complete in April 14, 2003. The project succeeded sequencing and mapping of human genome with a 99.99% which was within well within the intended goal. More than a breakthrough, this is a door that opens venue to more medical breakthroughs.

Completion of Human Genome Draft


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