Whatever the part of the body it is, Scientists need to work out what the problem is first!
With hearts and lungs this could be something like wheezing or the heart not pumping as well as it should.
The next job is to figure out what is happening in all of the different parts of this poorly body, and how this is all different from a healthy one. It’s a bit like a spot the difference puzzle, just a lot more complicated! The next part is the hardest bit, and involves doing a lot of experiments and carefully studying what’s gone wrong and how to make it right.
Now although we think of doctors and scientists curing diseases so that people can be normally healthy again, but it’s not always possible if someone is seriously ill. Sometimes scientists are just looking at ways to stop the disease getting any worse and preventing further damage happening.
They may have to do thousands of experiments needed to figure out what the problem is, then hundreds more to work out how to fix the problem and finally even more very important experiments to make sure the new medicine is safe. These last experiments, called clinical trials, take many years to complete since the new medicine has to be tested first on healthy people to make sure it isn’t dangerous, then on sick people to make sure it does what it’s supposed to do. Even after all that it is not 100% sure that the new medicine will be totally safe, the xarelto class action lawsuits serve as good examples of just how wrong new medicine can go.
Scientists are working on all kinds of new heart and lung medicines for things like asthma, heart disease, cystic fibrosis, and cancer, as well as many other heart and lung diseases that make many people very sick.
Drugs can be personalised too, by working out exactly what went wrong in a particular person and designing a medicine just for them. There is some really cool science called nanotechnology too which can carry medicines into the body in a way so that the drugs can be released more slowly.
The more we learn and study the body, the more we can make medicines more specific, that means sending the drugs into only the cells that need them.