Most of us should have the experience of getting sick and paying a visit to the hospital seeking professional medical advice. Nowadays we get high-quality medical care, accurate diagnosis of diseases and adequate treatment so easily. However, have you ever wonder how did all these rich and advanced clinical information get discovered? The health care that we enjoy today is built upon the hard work and years of effort by medical professionals, researchers, PhDs, scientists and a lot more to give credits to. Medical research is the search for disease cures, and it is generally a long investigating process that requires countless efforts of the professionals. It does not only include the discovery of diseases, but also involve clinical trials, technologies and medical instruments development. The heart of mission of almost all medical research activities is to improve human health, hence quality of life. Here we are going to discuss in detail the value and benefits of medical research.
Medical research in the UK are mainly supported and funded by a national organisation called The Medical Research Council (MRC). MRC invests in medical research on behalf of the UK tax-payers, across different aspects of health, with the six major research areas being infection and immunity, molecular and cellular medicine, neurosciences and mental health, population and systems medicine, global health and translational research. It aimed at improving human health, and to produce qualified scientists that will be able to contribute to the health industry, to tackle diverse immense health problems. Almost half of the MRC’s expenditure of £755.5 million goes into the grants to researchers in universities, medical schools and research institutes across the country. The remaining half is spent on the investment on programs within its own units and institutes, as well as studentships.
MRC was founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis (TB). Over the years, MRC had successfully made significant life-changing and influential discoveries, including the discovery of vitamins, types of diabetes, the molecular structure of DNA and the linkage between smoking and cancer. There were also historic accomplishments such as the invention of MRI scanning, DNA fingerprinting and the publication of the complete human genome sequence. The valuable success of the MRC research had been greatly acknowledged. Until today, twenty-three Nobel prizes were awarded to the MRC-supported scientists as to recognize the high-quality research that have been undertaken. This is to praise about the great impact and differences that have been made to improve human health.
There are a lot of medical breakthroughs and discoveries that we take it for granted, for example, different imaging techniques like X-rays and MRI. In fact, X-ray had only been discovered by German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895. Medical imaging has important roles in disease management, namely screening, diagnosis and staging, and treatment and monitoring. Many thanks to medical research, detection of cancer has now made easier. The development of biomedical imaging did not stop but has continuously advanced over the years. Technologies such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) arise to meet the need for accurate diagnosis. The physics and basis of imaging were further investigated and leads to the introduction of radiotherapy, a radiation that kills cancer. Who would have thought a picture of the inside of your body could be captured in seconds back in the days? Cancer was known to be untreatable, and today, despite it is still one of the most common killer, many of the cancer patients are successfully cured. This clearly illustrates the importance of medical research and how it devotes to the improvement of human health.
Regenerative medicine is one of the areas that is currently receiving a lot of attention in medical research n. It is medical treatments that replace damaged and diseased human tissues and cells, and to restore its function. There is a diversity of treatments, including tissue regeneration using stem cells, and the usage of nanotechnology. Stem cell therapy refers to the use of stem cells, cells that have the ability to transform and differentiate into other cell types, to prevent and treat diseases that result from malfunctioning cells. Medical researchers in the field are aiming to gain a better understanding on the control of stem cells in patients with different conditions, and apply the fundamental knowledge to develop therapies accordingly. Nanotechnology is also significant in the development of regenerative medicine. Nano-medicine is the medical use of nanoscale engineered devices for improved medical outcomes. It is important as most of the cells and chemical interactions that happen inside out body occur at the nanoscale. Targeted drug deliver can be established considering that nanosized particles are small enough to pass through biological barriers. Nanotechnology can aid not only drug delivery, but also the diagnosis of diseases like imaging, and treatments such as radiotherapy. It is believed that regenerative medicine will be the new treatment for different conditions that have no cure at the moment, for instance Parkinson’s diseases and leukemia. Research are bringing the idea of regenerative medicine closer to reality, and hopefully implementing into clinical practice in the future.
Another spotlight in medical research is definitely Dementia, a neurodegenerative disease that is recognized as one of the toughest medical challenges that we are facing in the society globally. It is characterized by the loss of memories and other mental disabilities that disrupts the patient’s daily living. Dementia is commonly known to be in association with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, different kinds of motor neuron diseases, and more to count. It is seen to be a medical burden to the health systems as there are limited understanding of the condition. Disease mechanism is still very unclear, causing the treatment plans and drug development to the disease ineffective. The incidence of dementia is growing. It is estimated that the number of people being affected by dementia will be doubled in the time of two-decade. Disease mechanism is the main focus in recent dementia researches. Scientists are eager to lower the disease prevalence. Learning more about the development of the disease can help us find new ways to treat and prevent the condition from arising. New tools are also designed by researchers for early accurate dementia diagnosis, allowing patients to access to medical support as soon as possible. Current drugs in the industry are not capable of curing the disease, but only to improve symptoms and slow down the disease progression. Researchers are constantly discovering and testing new drugs in clinical trials, intending to help more people on the clinical basis. It is hoped that research activities will shed light on how the neurodegenerative diseases develop soon, which will in turn deepen our understanding of the disease, helping to find new cure for the disease.
Medical research comes most beneficial to the society when it is noticed and involved by the public. Regular smokers should be familiar with the warning slogan stating the danger of smoking to health on cigarettes packaging in the market. In 1957, Sir Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford, both MRC-supported researchers, showed the correlation between smoking and lung cancer. It was found that heavy smokers who suffer from lung cancer are 20 times more likely to die to compare to non-smokers. According to the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), about one in five of the adult population have the habit of smoking in the United Kingdom. It causes around 10,000 deaths each year and costs the National Health Service (NHS) £20 billion to treat smoking-related diseases every year. Smoking is one of the biggest avoidable risk factors to death in the country. It is essential to translate results from medical research into influential health campaigns to raise the public awareness. In order to encourage citizens to quit the habit of smoking, the UK government made the rule of standardizing all tobacco packaging to be uniformly green, with standardized font size and color of the brand name, as well as having health warning messages and large image covering 65% of the front and back. Further studies have shown that the rule to standardized ‘plain’ tobacco packaging is indeed an effective control measure to diminish overall smoking experience. Smoking-related research and smoke-free advertisements work together closely to bring health benefits and better health outcomes.
Medical research has high value to the society. It provides important information and clues about how illnesses can be prevented and detected; how diseases can be managed and controlled more effectively through new medical treatment approaches. The huge effort of medical researchers and all the professionals has shown to us that conditions that were once life-threatening, such as smallpox, could be eradicated, making the disease history. Yet such astonishing medical breakthroughs are just the beginning of medical research. There is so much more to discover as to enhance the quality of life for the population. There are a lot of new challenges in this continuously and rapidly changing environment. Medical research is the key to reveal unknown actions and knowledge that we need for the cure to diseases that cause potential threats to the society. Without medical research, human might have faced severe hardship when catastrophic illness breakout, or even led to extinction. Your support to medical research can surely help make a positive impact on human health, as well as to ensure a healthy future.