This year has been one that we will never forget. And the core of this disruption has everything to do with our health and how to adapt to the fragility of life. But regardless of the pandemic, there is still plenty to talk about in reference to new breakthroughs in medicine. Here is my top 10 for 2020:
10. Telemedicine is a New Norm– Due to COVID-19, nearly a quarter of us had used a computer, app or phone for a telemedicine appt. Mental health counseling has also been done via Zoom which has been much needed, especially in areas where therapists are in short supply. Office visits are still important in certain circumstances (listening to lungs, abdominal exams, diagnosing the cause of joint pain, etc) but the shift to more online visits will become more common.
9. Biologics in Orthopedic Repair– It can take months or years to recover from orthopedic surgery. Biologics are natural substances such as cells, blood components and growth factors that is injected to preserve tissue rather than cutting into it. These can now be used to speed recovery and promote healing after surgery to improve patient outcomes.
8. Fast, Cheap Coronavirus Test– Abbott’s BinaxNOW rapid test received emergency-use authorization from the FDA in August. It detects COVID in fifteen minutes for around $5 per test—and without the need for specialized lab equipment.
7. New Class of Migraine Medicine– Ubrelvy is the first FDA-approved new class of migraine meds known as Gepants, which has shown relief without the nasty downsides vs triptans. The drugs control the activity of a pain-regulating molecule called the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) whose levels elevate during an attack. Ubrelvy blocks CGRP’s ability to bind to its corresponding receptor in the body, effectively stopping a migraine in its tracks.
6. New HIV Prevention– The HIV Prevention Trials Network study enrolled over 3000 women at risk for HIV across 7 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It was very successful in preventing HIV. They found that a single shot given every 2 months could be more effective in preventing HIV in women than a daily pill.
5. Coronavirus Vaccine– The first of it’s kind with the UK being the first country to authorize the vaccine rollout. Sarah Lindsey, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York received the first coronavirus vaccine in the United States on December 14th.
4. Year of the Nurse and the Midwife– The World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the year to honor nurses and midwives for their unrelenting work from refugee camps to rural towns to the front lines of COVID -19 and beyond.
3. Expanded use of Minimally Invasive Mitral Valve Surgery– A trans-catheter device has been FDA approved to repair the mitral valve in those with mitral valve regurgitation (MR). The FDA has broadened its approval to include those with an enlarged left ventricle, also known as secondary MR. This procedure can avoid major open heart surgery.
2. Immunology for Peanut Allergies– The FDA approved an oral immunotherapy treatment for peanut allergies in children. The oral capsule dose is increased over time to build a tolerance. This can lessen the fear of accidental exposure for kids with severe peanut allergy reactions.
1. New U.S. Leadership and a Renewed Focus on Global Health– President-Elect Biden announced his COVID-19 task force just days after election results. He promises to cooperate with countries around the world to coordinate coronavirus responses and join the international COVAX Facility, which is working on the development, production and access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.
From Wellcast.org, we wish you a very healthy, hopeful and joyous New Year!