Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2011

Yes, it’s THAT time of year again.  Frenzied last minute preparation for the holidays means shopping and shopping means lists, lists and more lists.

Here’s one more list that we thought you wouldn’t mind us sharing. It comes from The Cleveland Clinic, one of the most respected healthcare institutions in the country, who recently released its Top 10 medical innovations for 2011.  The list includes groundbreaking drugs for cancer, hepatitis and multiple sclerosis, as well as technical innovations including incision-less bariatric surgery and pill sized cameras.

To be in the running for the Top 10 list, innovations had to meet the following criteria:

  • Have significant potential for short-term clinical impact (either a major improvement in patient benefit or an improved function that enhances healthcare delivery).
  • Have a high probability of success
  • Be on the market or close to being introduced
  • Have sufficient data available to support its nomination.

So who made the list you ask?

With bated breath, a large drum roll and an annoying pause for a commercial break, here, in reverse order, dear Word on Health readers, are the winners for 2011:

10. Capsule endoscopy for diagnosis of pediatric GI disorders: A pill-sized camera that captures 50,000 high-resolution images during its painless six- to eight-hour journey through the digestive tract, proving better than x-ray at detecting small bowel ulcerations, polyps and areas of bleeding.

9. Oral disease-modifying treatment for multiple sclerosis: Before Fingolimod was approved by the FDA this year, MS drugs had to be injected or infused on a regular basis. This oral medication effectively stops T-cells from attacking the myelin sheaths that cover nerve fibers.

8. Exhaled nitric oxide (NO) breath analysis for diagnosing asthma: A new hand-held diagnostic testing device measures a patient’s level of exhaled NO, which is a biomarker for asthma. Monitoring NO levels allows doctors to more accurately tailor treatment strategies.

7. Transoral gastroplasty, or TOGA: A new experimental weight-loss option for obese patients who want to lose weight and improve their health without undergoing major surgery. This “scar-less” procedure represents a significant improvement in minimally-invasive bariatric surgery and losses approaching 40% of excess body weight can be expected within a year.

6. Telehealth monitoring for heart failure patients: Miniature implantable monitors to measure pulmonary artery pressure daily and at-home devices to monitor weight, heart rate and blood pressure of heart failure patients allow doctors to adjust medication quickly, improving patient outcomes and quality of life, while reducing re-hospitalizations.

5. Hepatitis C protease-inhibiting drugs: Two protease inhibitors drugs awaiting FDA approval for treatment of hepatitis C work by blocking a key enzyme that viruses need to copy themselves and proliferate. In clinical trials, cure rates for the protease inhibitors are higher than current hepatitis C treatments and have fewer side effects.

4. JUPITER study and statins for healthy individuals: The JUPITER (Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention: an Intervention Trial Evaluating Rosuvastatin) trial pointed out for the first time that many seemingly healthy people are at higher risk for heart disease than previously thought, suggesting that statins should be prescribed even to people with low LDL (bad cholesterol), if they have high C-reactive protein levels.

3. First therapeutic cancer vaccine approved by the FDA: While not a cure for prostate cancer, Sipuleucel-T is the first cancer vaccine to receive FDA approval. Prescribed to men with advanced prostate cancer, the drug coaxes their own immune systems into attacking and removing the cancer, reducing the risk of death by 24 percent compared to placebo.

2. Anti-CTLA-4 drug (ipilimumab), a targeted T-cell antibody for metastatic melanoma: The effectiveness of ipilimumab in treating melanoma confirms the role of immunotherapy as an effective treatment. In patients with advanced stage III or IV melanoma, 23% were still alive after two years compared to 14% of patients who received standard treatment.


1. New molecular imaging biomarker for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease: Currently, positive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is only possible upon autopsy. But a radioactive molecular imaging compound called AV-45 and a PET scan can allow doctors to “see” inside patients’ brains to detect beta-amyloid plaques, the tell-tale signature of Alzheimer’s.

If the technology is important to Cleveland Clinic it should be important to you,” said Christopher Coburn, Executive Director, Innovations, at the Cleveland Clinic.

Would these have been your picks?  SRxA’s Word on Health would like to hear from you.

One thought on “Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2011

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