Here are the top 10 health breakthroughs of 2016 that Wellcast found to be pretty amazing…
10. Wireless, Wearable Sensors- These health sensors will be able to monitor patients after being discharged from the hospital and outpatient clinics. Drug companies and researchers are looking into using anything from stick-on sensors to wristbands and special clothing to monitor respiratory rates, EKG readings, body temperature and glucose readings. These devices are especially good for those with serious and chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease and will help reduce hospital stays and readmissions.
9. Fighting The Superbugs- By analyzing the genes and decoding the DNA of bacteria that is harmful, we are able to prevent the spread of drug resistant infections in nursing homes and hospitals much quicker. It normally takes days or weeks to get results. But with this technology we can identify these bugs much sooner and start treatment to prevent the spread of things such as MRSA, C. diff and Strep pneumonia.
8. Early Cancer Screening Markers- We are able to detect some of the most deadliest cancers now by analyzing the abnormal blood proteins that cancer gives off. Researchers are now finding these proteins earlier so cancers like pancreatic, prostate and ovarian markers are identified at a much earlier stage than current tests.
7. Advances in Prosthetics- We are getting very close to linking the brain to a robotic limb to help paralyzed people and amputees regain movement. Researchers are putting implants in the area of the brain that controls the intention to move, not just the physical movement itself, to allow movements to be more fluid.
6. Gene Editing- We are starting to see major strides toward cutting harmful genes from a patients DNA. This would be a huge step in treating gene mutations that cause inherited diseases. We will need to consider the ethical concerns of those wanting to alter traits for nonmedical reasons.
5. New Cancer Vaccines- Immunotherapy cancer vaccines are able to train the immune system to fight and destroy cancer cells without harming healthy cells.The FDA has already approved this treatment for advanced prostate cancer and melanoma. Work on a new vaccine, first developed in Cuba, is already underway to treat lung cancer.
4. A Pan-genotypic Hepatitis C approval. There has been significant advances in hepatitis C treatments since the newer drugs (sofosbuvir/ledpasvir) were FDA approved in 2013. These were designed to treat one form of hepatitis C known as genotype 1. However, a new drug, Epclusa recently approved by the FDA is a game changer. It is the first hepatitis C drug capable of treating all 6 genotypes of hepatitis. It led to 94%-99% clearance of the virus after 12 weeks even for those with moderate-severe cirrhosis!
3. New Hormone Replacement Therapy Guidelines- This may not seem like a big breakthrough but it is for women struggling with menopause symptoms. According to the North American Menopause Society, even women over the age of 65 can now consider staying on hormone replacement if the benefits outweigh the risks. The benefits include bone, heart, cognition, treating vaginal atrophy, sexual function and mood. Yay!!
2. Tamoxifen Gel- a new way to fight breast cancer will be coming soon. Tamoxifen is a drug commonly prescribed for Ductal Carcinoma Insitu (DCIS) or for women who have a strong family history of breast cancer. The side effects can be annoying and dangerous to say the least which include hot flushes and blood clots. A new study using Tamoxifen in a gel form had the same benefits (decrease in abnormal cell growth) while avoiding side effects. Stay tuned…coming out soon.
1. Gamma Wave Treatment for Alzheimers- An hour a day of light therapy was found to break down beta-amyloid plaques (the hallmark of the disease) in mice. Although we might be a long way from it working in people, the treatment is so safe that human trials will get started soon.
Wishing you a Healthy, Happy New year!