Ringing in the New Year: Medical Innovations for 2017

Top 10 picks for 2017
Top 10 picks for 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

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