Gone is the year “that shall not be named” or the Voldemort of years. But no matter what people out there might shout, some good things did happen in 2016. It gave us Lemonade, didn’t it? (Think Beyonce, not when life throws you lemons). It also gave us some miracle vaccines and successful Phase I medicines. What does phase I mean? It means that the ‘vaccine can be used to treat humans’. The scientists have finally managed to find a cure to some of the incurable diseases. Something that was a far fetched dream a few years ago. So here is a round up of the good stuff that happened in the field of medicine in 2016.
A first of its kind HIV Vaccine called SAV001, developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang in Canada, cleared phase I clinical trials with flying colours. It is the first vaccine made by ‘using particles of killed whole-HIV-1’ i.e. modified virus that does not infect human cells. Now, using the killed virus to cure diseases is not new, but in case of HIV it was always feared that a not killed HIV could remain in the vaccines. Indeed a therapeutic HIV vaccine called Remune was developed in 1987 by Jonas Stalk. Remune has till date completed 25 clinical trial and is showing good results. This year scientists hope to clear phase II trials and prove that the vaccine works as a preventative treatment.
2. Universal Cancer Vaccine
As of now, every type of Big C is treated with a different technique as the same method does not work for every patient. Finding the treatment that works for a patient is one of the hardest truths of Cancer. But in June 2016 scientists took the first positive step towards creating a universal vaccine that stimulates the immune system to fight cancer in any part of the body. The added great news is that, if the safety trials come through, the vaccine would be inexpensive to produce.
3. Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Australian and American scientists made a breakthrough progress on a vaccine that could ultimately prevent and reverse both Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. 2016 saw the beginning of preclinical trials of second tau vaccine candidate, as the vaccine is termed at present. The good thing about this vaccine is that it can be given to people before they start developing dementia and also after they have started showing the symptoms. This can reverse the effects well in time.
After the death of more than ten thousand humans in an epidemic that shook a country, we have finally found an Ebola Vaccine. The pharmaceutical giant Merck began the production and development of the Ebola Vaccine in December, 2016. The final trial of the rVSV – ZEBOV vaccine confirmed that the medicine has 70-100% efficacy. The vaccine developed by National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada, starts showing its effect in 7 days. However, how long the effectiveness will last is still to be tested.
5. Non-Addictive Painkiller
The bane of every painkiller is that they become highly addictive in the long run and have abundant side effects. Last year a team of researchers finally found a miracle answer to this conundrum in the form of PZM21. The drug works as well as morphine but has none of its side effects. Early trials on mice proved that the PZM21 was not addictive.
An era of ‘Geroscience’ that is the vision 2016 gave birth to, a period where one doesn’t have to fight individual diseases. We cure the root problem of it all – ageing. An anti-ageing drug went into human trials last year that will prevent people from ageing quickly. The drug, Metformin, has already proved that it can extend the life of animals. The Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) study aims to let people live up to the age of 120 and over.
In a successful preclinical study, The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center tested two Zika virus vaccine candidates. The result of the study proved that a vaccine for ZIKA, that is effective in humans, is very much feasible. On testing, the vaccine ZPIV protected mice from further Zika challenge.
Another ZIKA vaccine, GLS-5700, developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science gained FDA approval for human trials making it the first vaccine candidate for ZIKA to reach this phase.
At present, there is no specific medicine for the treatment of Dengue. But, a small clinical trial done at the Johns Hopkins University by National Institutes of Health saw marvelous results. The single- dose vaccine proved to be ‘100% percent effective in protecting human volunteers’. Dengue has four virulent strains; the TV003 vaccine proved to be effective against all four of them.
Considering the amazing advancements 2016 saw in the field of medicine, we hope we can see the science come alive soon in common man’s everyday.
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