COVID-19 has dominated headlines for months, but science continues to move medicine forward, beyond the pandemic.
According to Cleveland Clinic’s annual ranking of medical innovations, expanded access to medications for cystic fibrosis and hepatitis C, take two of the top ten spots.
“We can now serve 90% of patients who have hepatitis C,” said Will Morris, MD, executive medical director for Cleveland Clinic Innovations, “This means that patients have more available therapy and therefore can lead to avoidance of serious downstream health impacts of hepatitis C.”
The list also includes three new therapies – PARP inhibitors for treatment-resistant prostate cancer, a drug for preventing migraines and the first-ever therapy for a progressive form of multiple sclerosis.
“15% of patients with MS experience progressive symptoms over time. This is otherwise known as primary-progressive multiple sclerosis,” said Dr. Morris. “Before, as physicians, we did not have a specific drug therapy for these patients and now we do.”
Medical devices also make the cut, including a simple tool used to reduce bleeding after childbirth, a non-invasive ventilator to help preterm infants breathe without damaging their delicate lungs, and a smartphone-connected pacemaker.
“Now the patient can use what’s in their pocket to actually see and be engaged in the dialog as that information is seamlessly connected through the phone and therefore, to their physician’s office,” Dr. Morris said.
Breaking down barriers to virtual care, by revising policies, is recognized as well.
“Through the pandemic, we’ve eliminated a lot of this bureaucracy and leveled the playing field and now this powerful medium is available to more patients across the nation,” said Dr. Morris.
And the number one innovation for 2021 is a gene therapy designed to cure genetic abnormalities of the red blood cells, specifically sickle cell disease and thalassemia.
“This gene therapy goes in and actually changes the genetic code of these blood cells and allows them to actually produce normal hemoglobin,” Dr. Morris said. “This is a game changing intervention that actually cures the patient and allows them to live a normal and productive life.”
Dr. Morris explained that the medical innovations making the 2021 top ten list are anticipated to help deliver better care, at a lower cost and make healthcare more accessible.