Curious about the medical breakthroughs that will transform patient care in the next few years? So were a panel of almost 100 researchers and clinicians at the Cleveland Clinic. The panel reviewed over 150 medical innovations in order to come up with the top selections for 2020.
Each nominated technology was evaluated against specific criteria. First, they must have a significant clinical impact and provide significant benefits to patients compared to present methods. Second, they must be at the clinical trial stage and due to go to market in the coming year. Third, they should have a strong human impact and human interest in their application.
After due debate and consideration, here are five of the most important medical breakthroughs for 2020:
Dual-acting osteoporosis drug
Romosozumab, which was approved in April 2020 by the FDA, is the first-ever osteoporosis drug with two functions: to decrease bone resorption and increase bone formation. In a clinical trial, subjects who received the drug had a 38% reduced risk of hip fracture, and a 50% reduced risk of spine fracture compared with those treated with standard anti-resorption therapy (alendronate).
The very first treatment for transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy
Transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy is a potentially fatal and progressive disease in which amyloid deposits in the heart’s left ventricle fibrils. This makes the muscle stiff, eventually causing heart failure.
However, a new drug called tafamidis has become the first-ever medication approved for the treatment of transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy. Patients on a tafamidis clinical trial had a lower rate of cardiovascular-related hospitalizations and a 30% lower all-cause mortality compared with subjects on a placebo.
Closed-loop spinal cord stimulation
Traditional spinal cord stimulation employs a spinal cord stimulator to send electric impulses to the spinal column. These electric impulses reduce the pain signals that make it to the brain. However, doctors can only prescribe a fixed-dose to patients, which severely limits its effectiveness.
Researchers recently developed closed-loop spinal cord stimulation. It works by getting feedback from the spinal cord of the patient itself. The system employs a simulator that can modulate the dose of stimulation by communicating with spinal cord neurons in real-time. Due to this innovation, patients can now receive customized dosages for greater pain relief.
PARP inhibitors for ovarian cancer treatment
Poly-ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors have emerged as one of the significant advances in the field of ovarian cancer treatment. The FDA has now approved it as first-line maintenance therapy for advanced-stage ovarian cancer.
Until now, such therapy hasn’t been explored widely. But a landmark study showed a 70% reduction in the risk of death and cancer progression by using a PARP inhibitor approved for maintenance therapy.
Neuro Sensor Feedback for Artificial Limb Control
A breakthrough method for controlling artificial limbs through neural feedback has been developed this 2020. This new technology involves computers decoding neural signals in connection with limb movement. In other words, individuals can now control artificial limbs through mere thought. The method uses sensors implanted to “hack” into the premotor cortex in the brain for total control over wheelchair movement, prosthetic limbs, or even full exoskeletons. Eventually, this technology can pave the way for true bionic prosthetics.
These are just some of the most groundbreaking medical developments for 2020. More are still in development and show great promise for human healthcare in the coming years.