New mRNA vaccinations. A new PSMA-targeted strategy for prostate cancer. The invention of a new method for lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol. These are some of the technologies predicted to optimize healthcare in the coming year, according to a panel of clinicians and researchers. The 10 most significant medical advances of 2022 are as follows, in order of projected impact:
Next Generation of mRNA Vaccinology
The creation of mRNA vaccines for diseases as diverse as cancer and Zika virus infection has been made possible by recent advances in RNA production, purification, and cellular delivery. The technique is inexpensive, easy to mass-produce, and induces immunity in a new fashion. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic also showed the urgency of developing a vaccine that could be used anywhere. An efficient COVID-19 vaccine was created, manufactured, licensed, and deployed in less than a year thanks to the framework built by earlier studies. This landscape-changing technology has the potential to be utilized to manage some of healthcare’s most complex ailments promptly and efficiently.
PSMA-Targeted Therapy in Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most often diagnosed cancer in American men, with over 200,000 new cases identified yearly. Tumour localization, illness staging, and recurrence detection rely heavily on accurate imaging. PSMA, an antigen expressed abundantly on prostate cancer cell surfaces, may be a diagnostic indicator of the illness. The PSMA protein is labelled with a radioactive tracer in PMSA PET scans, paired with CT or MRI scans to show precisely where prostate cancer cells are. Based on phase III clinical trials demonstrating significantly improved accuracy for detecting prostate cancer metastasis compared to conventional imaging using bone and CT scans, this technique will gain FDA clearance in 2020. PSMA PET scans provide for early detection of recurrent prostate cancer, allowing for a more precise and individualized treatment plan that may include stereotactic body radiation therapy, surgery, and systemic therapy.
LDL Reduction with a Novel Therapy
Elevated cholesterol levels in the blood, especially of the “bad” kind seen in low-density lipoproteins (LDL-C), are a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The Food and Drug Administration evaluated inclisiran in 2019 for treating primary hyperlipidemia in people with high LDL-C despite being on statin therapy at the maximum tolerable dose. Inclisiran, or PCSK9-targeting small interfering RNA, is a drug that can be injected. In addition to statins, it reduces LDL-C levels effectively and sustainably but only need to be dosed twice a year (whereas statins need to be taken daily). Its sustained effect has the potential to reduce prescription non-compliance, a major reason why other attempts to reduce cholesterol levels have failed. When the Food and Drug Administration finally approved it in December 2021, inclisiran was heralded as a breakthrough for those with heart disease
Therapeutic Breakthrough for Type 2 Diabetes
One in ten Americans has diabetes, which hinders the body’s ability to convert food into energy. One possible therapy is a once-weekly injectable dual glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide receptor agonist (GLP-1) that tries to manage blood sugar. GLP-1 and GIP receptors prompt the pancreas to secrete insulin and inhibit the hormone glucagon, reducing postprandial glucose levels when injected subcutaneously. Since it slows down the digestive process, it helps people feel full for longer, so they eat less. Based on the results of the most recent phase III clinical studies, this medicine has the potential to be the most effective therapy for diabetes and obesity by drastically reducing haemoglobin A1C in type 2 diabetes and aiding in weight loss.
Treatment for Postpartum Depression: A Major Advance
Because many cases of postpartum depression go misdiagnosed, experts estimate that the true prevalence of this condition is at least twice as high as what is shown by current statistics. Counselling and antidepressant drugs are the principal treatments now. However, not all women respond to these methods. The FDA authorized a specific intravenous infusion treatment for postpartum depression in 2019. This new treatment uses a neurosteroid to regulate the brain’s reaction to stress and is given continuously for 60 hours. Because it corrects the faulty signalling hypothesized to underlie hormone-sensitive postpartum depression, this approach to treatment is revolutionary. In contrast to conventional antidepressants, which can take anywhere from two to four weeks to have an appreciable effect, this medication shows advantages rather fast. This new, quick treatment option would be a game-changer for women with an undertreated illness.
Targeted Medication for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
The symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) have been treated by doctors for decades, but only with limited success, thanks to the use of medications originally intended for other heart disorders. Some of the symptoms that HCM shares with other cardiovascular illnesses are now treated with non-specific medicines. Beta-blockers, anti-arrhythmic medicines, calcium channel blockers, and anticoagulants are all examples of treatments in this category. However, a new medication is reducing the underlying cause in many people. A first-of-its-kind drug has been developed to treat aberrant cardiac contractions brought on by genetic variations. This innovative medication not only alleviates symptoms and boosts patients’ quality of life, but it also has the potential to halt the progression of HCM by targeting this specific mechanism. The FDA has set an anticipated action date for this treatment as April 28, 2022. If authorized, this treatment would be the first of its kind specifically designed to treat HCM, giving both patients and doctors reason to be optimistic.
Menopause: Seven Options Beyond Hormone Replacement
Hot flashes affect about half of all menopausal women and can last up to seven years on average. While effective and safe when used properly, hormone therapy does include some risks, and not all patients are ready to pursue this treatment option. Fortunately, a class of non-hormonal medications known as NK3R antagonists has developed as an effective substitute for hormone therapy. These medications have shown promise in clinical studies for alleviating moderate to severe menopausal heat flashes as effectively as hormones by disrupting a signalling system in the brain that has been connected to the development of hot flashes. There is no doubt that the next generation of non-hormonal therapy for menopausal hot flashes is on the horizon. At the same time, more research is necessary to understand these novel medications’ efficacy and safety fully.
Implantable for Severe Paralysis
An estimated 5.4 million Americans, or around 1 in 50, have paralysis. As a result, most patients’ health deteriorates significantly. Recently, a group has given these patients new hope by using implanted brain-computer interface technology to help them regain motor control and operate electronic equipment. The system uses electrodes surgically inserted into the patient’s brain to read and interpret brain signals that indicate movement. It has been demonstrated to restore voluntary motor impulses in patients with severe paralysis caused by damage to the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, or muscles. Although interface technology is still in its infancy, the implantable has been classified as a “breakthrough device” by the FDA, highlighting the urgency with which it must be brought to patients who could benefit the most from it.
Artificial Intelligence for Sepsis Detection
A severe inflammatory reaction to infection, sepsis is a major reason for hospitalization and mortality. Early detection of sepsis is crucial because of the high death rate associated with septic shock. Diagnosis can be problematic because early symptoms are prevalent across various illnesses, and the current criteria for diagnosis need to be more specific. Artificial intelligence (AI) has recently emerged as a promising method for the early diagnosis of sepsis. The technology monitors patients’ electronic medical records in real-time and uses AI algorithms to identify six critical risk variables as doctors enter them. Marking patients as high-risk allows for earlier intervention, which has been shown to boost outcomes, reduce costs, and even save lives.
Hypertension and Predictive Analytics
High blood pressure, often known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart failure, and stroke but often has no outward symptoms. Many adults don’t learn they have hypertension until they’ve already had a serious health setback, which is often too late to address. Doctors can enhance hypertension management by selecting more effective drugs, medication combinations, and dosages with the help of machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence. In addition, AI will help doctors foresee cardiovascular morbidities and concentrate on preventative measures. To prevent hypertension and other disorders, providers need the key that predictive analytics can deliver.