Medical Advances Developed During Covid – 19


Charlotte Meredith, Writer

          While people were concerning themselves with getting the Covid – 19 vaccine in the thick of Covid, some doctors were using their new research to help find new ways to cure or improve diseases and viruses. 

          One of the most important developments during Covid was a cure for Sickle Cell disease (SCD). SCD is a group of inherited red blood cells that get abnormal hemoglobin, causing the cells to become sticky and hard. The blood cells look C-shaped and die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. They can also get stuck when traveling through smaller blood vessels, which results in pain, infection, acute chest syndrome, and stroke. For more than 5,000 years, SCD has caused suffering for people of African descent. The treatment for this disease has been to get a bone marrow transplant, but now, thanks to new gene editing techniques, there is a new and safe alternative. The research to find this alternative was conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital. It uses a virus that switches off the gene for SCD, according to a study conducted in 2021. In the study, the patients all produced red blood cells and they didn’t need to get a bone marrow transplant for another three years. The study continued for 18 months, and researchers found that it completely halted the symptoms and it completely changed the lives of many people.

         Another development that came out of Covid-19 was a groundbreaking treatment that cures PTSD, a physiatric disorder that affects 15 million adults living in the US in just one year. The cure for this disorder was found in an unlikely source, MDMA, or the illegal drugs ecstasy and molly. It had fatal symptoms for users and fueled most (if not all) night rave dances. In a study conducted in June 2021, a study in Nature Medicine showed that sixty-seven percent of their subjects which included first responders, combat veterans, and victims of sexual assault all received MDMA and talk therapy and was no longer qualified for the diagnosis. The treatment involved for this is three eight-hour sessions monthly, and injections of MDMA. MDMA releases serotonin and stimulates hormones associated with emotional bonding, which helps them to be more open and connected with the therapists. Before the FDA can approve this method for curing PTSD they still need to conduct one more clinical trial. MDMA also still bears stigma from its party drug image. 

          Finally, orthopedic surgeons have found new ways to fix a torn anterior cruciate ligament, otherwise known as an ACL. An ACL is a flexible band found inside the knee that helps stabilize it. Tearing this important ligament can ruin a sports career or sideline weekend athletes. The most effective repair has been to remove the ACL and surgically remove tissue from an ankle or shin and sew it to the knee, hoping it heals well. As of 2020, a new way to solve this problem has come out: a Bridge Enhanced ACL Restoration (BEAR). The new approach involves placing a sponge filled with protein and the patient’s blood between the two ends of the ACL. This has been tested on 100 patients and as of May 2022, this new process is already available in the United States.

          Medical advances are continuing to evolve, and hopefully, researchers will continue to find new, helpful ways to treat different diseases, viruses, or anything else.