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Cleveland Clinic Unveils Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2015

Up-and-coming technologies include mobile stroke ambulance and painless blood testing

The Cleveland Clinic has announced its ninth annual list of top 10 medical innovations that are likely to have a major effect on improving patient care in 2015. The list includes a mobile stroke ambulance; fast, painless blood testing; and a new intra-operative radiation approach for breast cancer.

The list of up-and-coming technologies and drug therapies was compiled by a panel of Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists and was announced during the clinic’s 2014 Medical Innovation Summit, held October 27–29 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The top 10 medical innovations for 2015 are:

 1. Mobile Stroke Unit

High-tech ambulances bring the emergency department to patients with stroke symptoms. Using telemedicine, in-hospital stroke neurologists interpret symptoms via a broadband video link, while an onboard paramedic, critical care nurse, and computed tomography (CT) technologist perform a neurologic evaluation and administer tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) after stroke detection, providing faster, effective treatment for the patient.

 2. Dengue Fever Vaccine

Millions of people in more than 100 countries contract the dengue virus each year. The world’s first vaccine has been developed and tested, and is expected to be submitted to regulatory groups in 2015, with commercialization expected later that year.

 3. Cost-Effective, Fast, Painless Blood Testing

A new process of blood collection uses a drop of blood drawn from the fingertip in a virtually painless procedure. Test results are available within hours of the original draw and are estimated to cost as little as 10% of the traditional Medicare reimbursement.

 4. PCSK9 Inhibitors for Cholesterol Reduction

Statin medications have been used to reduce cholesterol in heart disease patients for more than 20 years, but some people are intolerant and cannot benefit from them. Several PCSK9 inhibitors, or injectable cholesterol-lowering drugs, are in development for those who don’t benefit from statins. The FDA is expected to approve the first PCSK9 in 2015 for its ability to significantly lower LDL-cholesterol to levels never seen before.

 5. Antibody–Drug Conjugates

Chemotherapy, the only form of treatment available for some cancers, destroys cancer cells and harms healthy cells at the same time. A promising new approach for advanced cancer selectively delivers cytotoxic agents to tumor cells while avoiding normal, healthy tissue.

 6. Checkpoint Inhibitors

Cancer kills approximately 8 million people annually and is difficult to treat, let alone cure. Immune checkpoint inhibitors have allowed physicians to make significantly more progress against advanced cancer than they’ve achieved in decades. Combined with traditional chemotherapy and radiation treatment, the novel drugs boost the immune system and offer significant long-term cancer remissions for patients with metastatic melanoma, and there is increasing evidence that they can work in other types of malignancies.

 7. Leadless Cardiac Pacemaker

The technology involved in cardiac pacemakers hasn’t changed much since 1958. A silver dollar-sized pulse generator and a thin wire inserted through the vein keeps the heart beating at a steady pace. Leads can break and crack, however, and can become infection sites in 2% of cases. Vitamin-sized wireless cardiac pacemakers can be implanted directly in the heart without surgery and can eliminate malfunction complications and restriction on daily physical activities.

 8. New Drugs for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Nearly 80,000 American adults with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) may breathe easier in 2015 with the recent FDA-approval of two new drugs. Pirfenidone and nintedanib slow the disease progress of the lethal lung disease, which causes scarring of the air sacs. Before these developments, there was no known treatment for IPF, in which the life expectancy after diagnosis is just 3 to 5 years.

9. Single-Dose Intraoperative Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

Finding and treating breast cancer in its earliest stages can often lead to a cure. For most women with early-stage breast cancer, a lumpectomy is performed, followed by weeks of radiation therapy to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. Intra-operative radiation therapy (IORT) focuses the radiation on the tumor as a single-dose during surgery, and has proven effective as whole-breast radiation.

 10. New Drug for Heart Failure

An angiotensin-receptor neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI) has been granted “fast track” status by the FDA because of its impressive survival advantage over the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor enalapril, the current “gold standard” for treating patients with heart failure. The unique drug compound represents a paradigm shift in heart failure therapy.

Source: PR Newswire; October 29, 2014.

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