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From training dogs to detect cancer to body parts grown in the lab, here is a roundup of the top 10 medical discoveries of 2011.
Medical discoveries great and small made the news in 2011. Here are our top 10.

1. Microfluidics to run medical tests with drops of blood instead of vials of blood.

If you have ever had a physical, you almost certainly have had the experience of waiting in a tiny office for a phlebotomist to come and draw blood from your arm, or, if your veins are invisible, your hand. One, two, three vials or more may needed for the most routine blood tests, but they won't be for long.
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Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of  Technology (MIT) have developed a chip that can conduct tests on a single drop of blood. The chip has channels that direct tiny amounts of blood back and forth, to the right and to the left, for measurements that can be available in seconds instead of hours. MIT engineers anticipate that most of the tests you have to have done at the doctor's office will be done at home in the 2020's.

2. Smart ultrasound.

The advantage of using ultrasound for medical diagnosis is that it is noninvasive and does not require the use of radiation. The disadvantage of using ultrasound for medical diagnosis is that it tends to produce fuzzy pictures.

Now engineers have developed "smart ultrasound" that may deliver images with the clarity of an X-ray without having to expose the patient to radiation. Ultrasound can be used to generate dozens or even hundreds of pictures of organs and tissues without any added risk to the patient.

3. A spit test for chronological age.

Even the crack scientists at American television's CSI can't do an exact determination of a person's age. Now scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles have come up with a way to make an exact determination of a dead (or live) person's age by testing the DNA in saliva.

Scientists have known for many years that certain genes get "switched on" or "switched off" by exposure to environmental influences such as stress, diet, UV radiation, and pollution. Without knowing a lot about a person's lifestyle, however, they could not use measurements of how much DNA had been changed by life events to make an estimate of age. The UCLA research team has located segments of DNA that change at a regular rate throughout life without regard to environmental influences, and has created a basic technology for measuring age by testing saliva. Commercialization of the device, however, is at least several years away.

4. A blood test for rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that can come on very suddenly. People can go to bed feeling fine and wake up the next morning with extensive joint destruction. A new blood test for the anti-CCP factor, developed at the University of Pittsburgh in the United States, gives doctors a way to test for rheumatoid arthritis before it manifests devastating symptoms, giving them a chance to help their patients save mobility and prevent pain.

5. A New Treatment for Brain Aneurysms

One in 15 people in Australia, North America, and Europe will have a brain aneurysm. Many will suffer devastating strokes or die. A newly approved surgical treatment called the pipeline stent allows doctors to remove weak tissue in the lining of blood vessels before it breaks.

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