Portal:Medicine

Medicine

Marble statue of Asclephius on a pedestal, symbol of medicine in Western medicine

Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.

Medicine has been around for thousands of years, during most of which it was an art (an area of skill and knowledge) frequently having connections to the religious and philosophical beliefs of local culture. For example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism. In recent centuries, since the advent of modern science, most medicine has become a combination of art and science (both basic and applied, under the umbrella of medical science). While stitching technique for sutures is an art learned through practice, the knowledge of what happens at the cellular and molecular level in the tissues being stitched arises through science.

Prescientific forms of medicine are now known as traditional medicine and folk medicine. They remain commonly used with or instead of scientific medicine and are thus called alternative medicine. For example, evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is “variable and inconsistent” for any condition, but is generally safe when done by an appropriately trained practitioner. In contrast, treatments outside the bounds of safety and efficacy are termed quackery. Read more…

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smallpox

Smallpox is an acute infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants named Variola major and Variola minor. Also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera; a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning spotted, or varus, meaning “pimple”. The term “smallpox” was first used in Europe in the 15th century to distinguish variola from the great pox (syphilis).

Smallpox localizes in small blood vessels of the skin and in the mouth and throat. In the skin, this results in the characteristic maculopapular rash, which evolves into raised vesicles, then into fluid-filled pustules. V. major produces a more serious disease and has an overall mortality rate of 30–35%. V. minor (also known as alastrim, cottonpox, milkpox, whitepox, and Cuban itch) causes a milder form of disease which kills ~1% of its victims.

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Serpin activity

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Did you know…?

  • Genotoxicity is the proper term for the DNA damaging property of many carcinogens. These chemicals alter DNA to induce mutations and then apoptosis. While this is a common property in chemicals that cause cancer it is also a property in drugs that fight cancer; these drugs alter the DNA of cancerous cells leading to mutations in cancer cells and eventual cell death.

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