Tag Archives: alternative

Vasectomies: the next generation (or not…)

iStock_000018769253SmallFor men who don’t want to commit to a surgical vasectomy, a new option may soon be available. It’s called Vasalgel, and this “no-scalpel vasectomy” could be the next generation of men’s birth control by effectively eliminating the creation of… yes, the next generation.

Traditional vasectomies involve cutting the vas deferens in a brief surgical procedure. Vasalgel is just what is sounds like: a gel. The non-hormonal gel is injected into the vas deferens, where it stays in place and tears apart sperm as they pass through. It’s likely to be more easily reversed than a traditional vasectomy, as the reversal would involve flushing the gel out of the vas deferens with a separate injection.

Researchers are still working on this gel, and it’s been successfully tested in rabbits and is currently being tested in male baboons. Results are promising, as none of the baboons has successfully impregnated any females. Researchers estimate that this gel should last for at least 10 years in humans before needing to be re-injected. Read more about it here:


No more eye drops for glaucoma patients?

Water EyeGlaucoma medication delivered through a contact lens is closer than you might think! About six weeks ago, I wrote about an article discussing the development of this type of lens through animal studies. Read about it here. And now, it looks like a Phase I clinical trial in humans could begin in as little as a year!

In animal studies, these contacts were able to deliver the proper amount of medication consistently and safely over the course of a month. Staying on a medication regimen can be difficult- I’m sure you’ve had a prescription to follow and you’ve missed a pill or two. Keeping up with eye drops is often a challenge for glaucoma patients, because they don’t relieve symptoms. The drops can prevent vision from worsening, but when you don’t have immediate relief from your medication, there’s not as much motivation to stay consistent. The novel design of this lens is pretty cool, and could make a huge difference for patients. Stay tuned- we’ll see what happens in clinical trials!


Antibiotics… and the people who forget to take them

iStock_000009533761XSmallAntibiotic resistance occurs when antibiotics stop working against certain bacteria. If you’re prescribed antibiotics, and you take your medication until you feel better but just toss those last few pills, it’s likely that you haven’t gotten rid of all of the bacteria that caused your illness in the first place. Those that are left are now more resistant to your particular antibiotic. And when these resistant bacteria start spreading to other people, it can cause serious problems.

Antibiotic resistance is partly due to overuse and misuse of antibiotics. And it’s not just the bacteria to blame! We all know that most humans are pretty crappy at following directions, so it’s not surprising that antibiotic misuse is so common.

Researchers are working on the problem. By combining antibiotics with different compounds that could increase their effectiveness, it’s likely that these new combinations will be able to knock out disease-causing bacteria more effectively. And by using genetic sequencing techniques (that were developed through animal research) to understand the bacteria in question, scientists can develop drugs more efficiently and possibly learn how to neutralize bacteria in different ways. Read more here:


Cervical cancer protection in one shot

iStock_000027350736XSmallCervical cancer kills approximately 4,000 women in the U.S. each year. And about 85% of all cervical cancer cases occur in developing countries, where routine screening is not a standard of care. Currently, only a small percentage of American women receive the series of vaccinations- and physicians are definitely interested in increasing this number.

Gardasil and Cervarix, the two cervical cancer vaccines currently available, require three doses within a six-month period. But a vaccine that could be effective after only one dose is highly desirable. One dose, given during a yearly physical, would be a much easier ‘sell’ than a vaccine requiring two more follow-up visits. Vaccination would also be more affordable.

After looking at immune responses in women who had received one, two, or three doses of the vaccine, researchers found that even after only receiving one vaccine, lasting effects were seen. While long-term research is definitely needed to determine whether or not these effects are enough to be considered protective, it’s definitely looking promising that current vaccine recommendations may be able to be altered in a way that would be more efficient. Read more here:



Postoperative pain management improvements

Neck painNarcotics tend to be the standard treatment for managing postoperative pain after major operations, but they come with many possible side effects, including the potential for drug dependency. However, new research could reduce or eliminate the need for narcotic medication in post-op pain management.

Researchers at the Houston Methodist Research Institute have developed a method to deliver lidocaine (a drug that usually has short-lived effects) in a way that will prolong the therapeutic effects of the drug. When combined with daily NSAIDs, studies in rats showed that the combination therapy was as effective as daily treatment with narcotics- without the undesirable side effects! While further research is necessary, this could be a great solution for post-operative pain management in both humans and animals!


Why computer models can’t replace animals in research

Computer ratIn the field of biomedical research, animal research is an extremely important component in the development of new drugs, vaccines, treatments, and medical procedures. The information learned from animals is responsible for saving and improving the lives of countless people every day.

Some argue that today’s computer models of living systems are complex enough that they should be able to replace the use of animals in research. However, it’s important to understand that computer simulations are based on our existing knowledge of the living body and diseases. This current knowledge- which was gained through animal research- is constantly changing and improving. As animal models are able to provide more insight into disease processes and unlocking genomic information, the latest version of the computer model would quickly become obsolete.

Because of this, computer models by themselves cannot be successful without the information that animal research can contribute. But using computer models along with animal research can certainly help progress medical science. For a better understanding of the importance of animal model research, check out the links below.