Cleveland Clinic Shares Top 2017 Medical Innovations

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More than 100 clinicians and researchers identified the top 10 most anticipated medical innovations of 2017.
More than 100 clinicians and researchers identified the top 10 most anticipated medical innovations of 2017.

What exciting new medical developments can we look forward to in 2017? To answer this question, the Cleveland Clinic assembled a group of more than 100 physicians and leading researchers, who identified the top 10 medical innovations anticipated to have the greatest impact. The final list was unveiled at the Cleveland Clinic's annual Medical Innovation Summit.1

1. Using the Microbiome to Prevent, Diagnose, and Treat Disease

In May, 2016, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced a new National Microbiome Initiative (NMI) to “foster the integrated study of microbiomes across different ecosystems.”2 The gut microbiome is “the community of bacteria and their genetic material living in the gut.”3 These “commensal” bacteria are estimated to number 100 trillion.4 Dysfunctional microbiomes are associated with human chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, and depression. Major entities, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, will be investing millions of dollars in research into the microbiome, and biotech companies are anticipated to shift their focus from genomics to new diagnostics, new therapies, and new probiotic products to prevent or address microbial imbalance.1,2

2. Diabetes Drugs that Reduce Cardiovascular Disease and Death

According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans  (9.3% of the population) have diabetes.5 Myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke are common, life-threatening complications, with death rates from these conditions 2 to 4 times higher in patients with diabetes than in the general population.6 Newer agents, such as the sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors and the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, have positively impacted cardiovascular mortality, and new diabetes drugs under development are poised to utilize novel targets. Today, there are 171 medicines in development for type 1 and type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related conditions. All of these medicines are in clinical trials or awaiting review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).7

3. Cellular Immunotherapy to Treat Leukemia and Lymphomas

In 2016, close to 16,000 children and adolescents were diagnosed with cancer, of which over a quarter had leukemia.1 One of the first cellular immunotherapies is on the cusp of being approved, with early results suggesting that even advanced disease can be curable.1 The genetic modification and characterization of T-cells with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) allow functionally distinct T-cell subsets to recognize and eliminate specific tumor cells, possibly also minimizing chances of relapse.7 Results of clinical trials have been “impressive,” with remission rates as high as 90%.1 This novel treatment is expected to be presented to the FDA for approval in 2017, with the indication of treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).1

4. Liquid Biopsies to Find Circulating Tumor DNA

Cancer cells carry somatic DNA mutations that provide a highly specific biomarker that can be detected and tracked through cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) shed by the tumor into the bloodstream.8 ctDNA is 100 times more abundant than tumor cells in the blood.8 Results of several studies suggest that ctDNA analysis is a “potential alternative and/or replacement to analyses using costly, harmful and lengthy tissue biopsies of metastasis, irrespective of cancer type and metastatic site, for multiplexed mutation detection in selecting personalized therapies based on the patient's tumor genetic content.”9 This test is predicted to revolutionize cancer detection and the monitoring of cancer progression, with annual sales forecast to be $10 billion and several companies hard at work developing testing kits that are expected to become available in 2017.1

5. Automated Car Safety Features and Driverless Capabilities

Car accidents take a huge toll on human life  (with an estimated 38,300 fatal car crashes in 2015), and also lead to disability and high economic cost to society.1 New automatic safety features are poised for introduction in 2017. These include collision warning systems, drowsiness alerts, and adaptive cruise control.1 Additional innovations include external airbags that protect pedestrians from injuries, night vision displays, a speak-easy feature allowing the driver to talk to passengers in the back seat without having to turn around, and a rear camera mirror.10 In addition, companies are exploring driverless cars.1

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