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Dec 29, 2011 at 09:03am IST

Medical breakthroughs of 2011

New Delhi: 2011 was a year not just of landmark political revolutions but also of medical marvels. Be it HIV prevention or a vaccine for malaria, 2011 saw many medical breakthroughs. Here's a look at the top five:

HIV treatment as prevention:

It has been deemed as the most important scientific breakthrough of the year 2011. A study published in the journal Science this year, found that the same drugs that are used to treat HIV can also prevent HIV - a completely novel approach - that could prevent the infection from spreading.

Malaria vaccine:

A first-ever malaria vaccine tested in children in sub-Saharan Africa was found to cut the risk of infection with malaria by about half - a remarkable achievement, considering there has never been a vaccine against a human parasite before, or against malaria, which infects millions of children each year.

Scientists creating real body parts in lab:

Scientists are now creating real functioning body parts in the lab. Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, created a urethra, in March, which when transferred into patients, actually worked as a real organ. And British scientists have created human kidneys from stem cells which could result in transplant patients growing their own organs.

Generating stem cells artificially:

Researchers have now been able to generate stem cells artificially, by combining the DNA of an adult human cell with the genetic material of an egg. The technique is similar to that used to create Dolly the sheep. The process is promising because it can potentially yield stem cells and cut the need for an embryo.

Dogs that can sniff out lung cancer:

German researchers trained dogs over nine months to distinguish between breath samples of lung cancer patients and those who are cancer free. The animals were able to identify 71 out of 100 cancer samples accurately.