In December of 2020, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech each successfully developed two COVID-19 messenger RNA vaccines with 95% efficacy in the prevention of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Both vaccines were successfully approved in December by the Food and Drug Administration for the emergency use authorization for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 in adults.
In addition to these two COVID-19 mRNA vaccines, top clinicians and researchers present transforming medical advancements to recognize the top ten healthcare innovations for 2021.
An up-and-coming gene therapy for blood disorders. A new class of medications for cystic fibrosis. Increased access to telemedicine. These are some of the innovations that will enhance healing and change healthcare in the coming year, according to a distinguished panel of clinicians and researchers from Cleveland Clinic.
In conjunction with the 2020 Medical Innovation Summit, Cleveland Clinic announced the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2021. Now in its 18th year, the annual Medical Innovation Summit is organized by Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the development and commercialization arm of Cleveland Clinic.
The list of breakthrough technologies was selected by a committee of Cleveland Clinic subject matter experts, led by Will Morris, M.D., executive medical director for Cleveland Clinic Innovations, and Akhil Saklecha, M.D., managing director of Cleveland Clinic Ventures.
Here, in order of anticipated importance, are the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2021:
1. Gene Therapy for Hemoglobinopathies
Hemoglobinopathies are genetic disorders affecting the structure or production of the hemoglobin molecule – the red protein responsible for transporting oxygen in the blood. The most common hemoglobinopathies include sickle cell disease and thalassemia – which combined affect more than 330,000 children born worldwide every year and more than 100,000 patients with sickle cell disease in the United States alone. The latest research in hemoglobinopathies has brought an experimental gene therapy, giving those who have the condition the potential ability to make functional hemoglobin molecules – reducing the presence of sickled blood cells or ineffective red blood cells in thalassemia to prevent associated complications.
2. Novel Drug for Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis
In individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS), the immune system attacks the fatty protective myelin sheath that covers the nerve fibers – causing communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body that can result in permanent damage or deterioration and eventual death. Approximately 15 percent of people with MS experience a disease subset known as primary-progressive, characterized by gradual onset and steady progression of signs and symptoms. A new, FDA-approved therapeutic monoclonal antibody with a novel target is the first and only MS treatment for the primary-progressive population.
3. Smartphone-Connected Pacemaker Devices
Implantable devices like pacemakers and defibrillators deliver electrical impulses to the heart muscle chambers to contract and pump blood to the body. They are used to prevent or correct arrhythmias – heartbeats that are uneven, too slow or too fast. Remote monitoring of these devices is an essential part of care. Traditionally, remote monitoring of this device takes place through a bed-side console that transmits the pacemaker or defibrillator data to the physician. Though millions of patients have pacemakers and defibrillators, many lack a basic understanding of the device or how it functions and adherence to remote monitoring has been suboptimal. Bluetooth-enabled pacemaker devices can remedy these issues of disconnection between patients and their cardiac treatment. Used in conjunction with a mobile app, these connected devices allow patients greater insight into the health data from the pacemakers and transmit the health information to their physicians.
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