Lesson

Australian Medical Inventions

So, today’s Aussie fact. I decided to look up medical inventions from Australia. So, I thought, I know that there’s a few medical inventions that were created in Australia. So, I thought I would do a search, I’d list them, I’d mention them, and I would discuss each of them for you, guys. So, I’ve got six here. Okay.

And if you want to read a more in-depth article about these inventions and a couple of other ones that were also listed go to ScienceAlert.com. Okay. It’ll be in the transcript if you want the link to read this article. Okay. Let’s go.

So, number one: Medical application of penicillin. So, the Australian researcher Howard Florey worked with a team in the UK to purify penicillin from a special strain of mould. This is how it was originally done. And he later showed it could fight bacterial infection in humans. The antibiotic changed modern medicine forever, although obviously, we’re going to probably have problems in the near future because antibiotics are less and less effective these days.

Number Two: disease-diagnosing nano-patches. Disease-diagnosing nano-patches. This is still a relatively new invention, but these nano-patches have the potential to change the way we diagnose disease in the future. They were developed by researchers at the University of Queensland, and the patches are covered in tiny microscopic needles that can quickly and painlessly detect disease carrying proteins in the blood. How crazy’s that? And it means that you don’t need a blood test. So, because these patches have access to the human bloodstream, obviously, with those little needles, you don’t have to get blood tests. So, as someone who really hates blood tests, I‘m looking forward to these becoming more predominantly used.

Number three: the bionic ear. I know! I didn’t realise this until I read this too. The bionic ear. One of our best-known exports is the cochlear implant. Both my grandparents have one of these. And the cochlear implant was created by Graeme Clark a researcher at the University of Melbourne. The device has helped more than 250,000 people with profound hearing loss to hear again. So, how crazy is that? The cochlear implant.

Number four: spray-on-skin. Now, I remember this one being in the news. Spray-on-skin has saved the lives of tens of thousands of burn victims around the world and was invented by a woman named Fiona Wood from the University of Western Australia. The invention works by taking a small patch of a patient‘s skin, then growing it in the lab so that it can be sprayed back on to the person’s skin, where they’ve been burnt, over their wounds and create a protective barrier. Really cool!

So, number five: the ultrasound scanner. I didn’t realise this one was ours too. Every expectant mum around the world when they go to the hospital would be more than familiar with the ultrasound scanner, but what people might not know is that the initial discovery that ultrasounds could bounce off soft tissue was made by the CSIRO, and in 1976 it was commercialised by an Australian company called Ausonics.

Number six, the very last one, guys: electronic pacemakers. Another one that blew my mind. The first pacemaker was made impulsively back in 1926, at Sydney’s Crown Street Women’s Hospital to help save a newborn patient suffering from heart problems. The device was used to stimulate the baby’s heartbeat with electric pulses and was created by medical doctor Mark Lidwill, but he was so concerned about the ethical implications of his invention that he refused recognition and patents despite his inventions saving hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.


Vocabulary:

ST – Something

SO – Someone

SW – Somewhere

A blood test – a laboratory analyse performed on a patient’s blood
A burn victim – SO who has suffered burns to the body
A device – a thing made or adapted for a particular purpose, especially a piece of mechanical or electronic equipment
A heartbeat – the pulsation of the heart
A lab – a laboratory
A nano-patch – a patch – an adhesive piece of material; nano- – very small, minute, e.g. nanotechnology
A needle – the pointed hollow end of a hypodermic syringe
A patent – a government authority or license conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention
A patient – SO being treated by a doctor
A protective barrier – a physical layer on top of ST in order to protect it
A strain (of ST) – a natural or cultured variety of a microorganism with a distinct form, biochemistry, or virulence
A wound – an injury to living tissue caused by a cut, blow, or other impact, typically one in which the skin is cut or broken
An antibiotic – a medicine (such as penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms
An electric pulse – a single short burst of electric current
An ethical implication – an ethical conclusion that can be drawn from ST although it is not explicitly stated
An expectant mum – a pregnant woman (who is expecting to become a mother)
An export – a product or service sold abroad
An invention – a device created by SO
An ultrasound scanner – a device used to examine an internal bodily structure by the use of ultrasonic waves, especially for the diagnosis of abnormality in a fetus
Best-known – most famous
Bionic – having or denoting an artificial, typically electromechanical, body part or parts
Bounce off ST – rebound from ST
Commercialise ST – organise ST in a way designed to make a profit
Diagnose ST – identify the nature of (an illness or other problem) by examination of the symptoms
Disease-diagnosing – identifying the nature of a disease
How crazy’s that? – How impressive is that?
Impulsively – without forethought; on impulse
In-depth – comprehensive and thorough
Initial – existing or occurring at the beginning
Look forward to ST – anticipate ST excitedly
Microscopic – so small as to be visible only with a microscope
Mould – a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae
Painlessly – occur without pain
Penicillin – an antibiotic produced naturally by certain blue moulds, now usually prepared synthetically
Predominantly – mainly; for the most part
Purify ST – remove contaminants from ST
Recognition – the action or process of recognising or being recognised for ST
Refuse ST – indicate or show that one isn’t willing to do ST
Soft tissue – body tissue that isn’t hard, e.g. fat, ligaments, skin, etc.
Spray ST – apply (liquid) to SO or ST in the form of tiny drops
Spray-on-skin – skin that is sprayed onto ST
The bloodstream – the blood circulating through the body of a person or animal