Top Medical Innovations of 2022

A vaccine that may prevent HIV. A single X-ray that predicts heart disease. A sebum test that gives Parkinson's diagnosis in 3 minutes. Healthnews contributors, medical advisors, and journalists made a list of the most groundbreaking medical innovations of 2022.

The year 2022 has continued to pose challenges to public health: from emerging new SARS-CoV-2 variants to the global monkeypox outbreak and growing mental health crisis.

But medicine has also been rapidly advancing, promising to treat, alleviate, or prevent diseases affecting millions of people.

Drug to delay the onset of type 1 diabetes

In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Tzield (teplizumab-mzwv), the first drug that could delay the onset of type 1 diabetes. Tzield, developed by Provention Bio, Inc., is available to adults and children aged 8 and older with stage 2 type 1 diabetes.

The drug works by binding to certain immune system cells and delaying progression to stage 3 type 1 diabetes. Tzield may deactivate the immune cells that attack insulin-producing cells, simultaneously increasing the proportion of cells that help moderate the immune response.

In the trial, the average time from randomization to stage 3 type 1 diabetes diagnosis was 50 months for the participants who received Tzield, compared to 25 months in a placebo group.

A single X-ray to predict heart disease

Researchers have developed a deep learning model, known as CXR-CVD risk, that uses a single chest X-ray to predict the 10-year risk of death from a heart attack or stroke caused by atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

The CXR-CVD risk model was developed using over 145,000 chest X-rays from 40,643 participants in the cancer screening trial and later tested on the second independent cohort of 11,430 outpatients. The model is trained to search X-ray images to find patterns associated with the disease.

In the Hospital, Man Standing Face Against the Wall While X-Ray Machine Scan Him

Currently, a 10-year risk of major adverse cardiovascular disease events is estimated by considering factors such as age, blood pressure, and smoking, among others. Those with an increased risk are prescribed a statin, a drug reducing levels of cholesterol in the blood.

HIV vaccine that induces immunity response

Scientists have been unsuccessfully trying to create an HIV vaccine since 1987. However, researchers at Scripps Research Institute may be close to it, as their HIV vaccine candidate induced antibodies against the disease in 97% of participants in Phase 1 clinical trial.

The vaccine also had a favorable safety profile. Still, it is too early to tell if the shot could protect against the human immunodeficiency virus, affecting 1.2 million people in the U.S.

The researchers in the study use a strategy known as "germline targeting," where the production of desired broadly neutralizing antibodies is launched by stimulating the right antibody-producing cells.

Sebum test for Parkinson's disease

A non-invasive skin test may help to diagnose Parkinson's disease in as little as 3 minutes, the study from the University of Manchester suggests.

The test examines samples of sebum, an oily secretion from sebaceous glands under the skin which are connected to the endocrine system. In the study, the sebum was collected from the upper back of patients in the clinics and mailed to the lab.

When analyzing sebum samples, researchers found 500 compounds that are different between people with Parkinson's disease compared to the control participants.

The study authors say this test has the potential to improve the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease significantly. They are now focusing on translating findings into a test of clinical utility.

Treatment for postpartum depression

About 1 in 8 women with a recent live birth experience symptoms of postpartum depression (PPD), but the actual number may be even higher. Fortunately, progress in treating the disease has been made in recent years.

In 2019, the FDA approved Zulresso (brexanolone) injection to treat adult PPD patients. Zulresso is administered as a continuous intravenous infusion over a total of 60 hours while patients are being closely monitored.

This year, the agency expanded the availability of the drug to women aged 15 to 17 with postpartum depression.

Daxxify, a competitor to Botox

Another anti-wrinkle drug entered the market when the FDA approved neuromodulator Daxxify (daxibotulinumtoixnA-lanm) in September. The drug aims to treat moderate-to-severe glabellar (frown) lines in adults and is administered by an injection into the face.

Revance Therapeutics Inc., the manufacturer of Daxxify, says that in half of the clinical trial participants, the effect of the injection lasted six months, while some were enjoying results even nine months later.

Close up of beautician expert's hands injecting botox in female forehead.

The company says that Daxxify offers a longer-lasting effect than other treatments on the market, including Botox, used by over 7.4 million people in the U.S.

First drug for obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

In June, the FDA approved Camzyos (mavacamten), the first drug to treat symptomatic New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II-III obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (oHCM), to improve functional capacity and symptoms.

oHCM is a rare disease that occurs when the heart muscle thickens, mostly in the wall separating the heart's right and left sides, and prevents blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.

Camzyoes is expected to reduce the need for septal reduction therapy, which often requires either an open-heart surgical procedure or a septal ablation procedure.

In a 30-week trial, 37% of participants treated with Camzyos improved on an endpoint measuring exercise capacity and symptoms, compared to 17% of participants in the placebo group.

First lab-grown red blood cells transfusion

For the first time, researchers transfused laboratory-grown red blood cells into a human recipient in 2022. Two participants in the randomized controlled clinical trial received around 5-10mls of lab-grown cells, and no untoward side effects were reported.

Researchers say it is the first step towards creating blood from stem cells outside the living human body.

The technology could significantly improve the care of people with diseases that require frequent red blood cell transfusions, such as beta-thalassemia or sickle cell disease, and people with rare blood groups.

Drug for ALS patients

The long list of the FDA's approved drugs in 2022 includes Relvyrio, also known as AMX0035, for treating a rare neurological disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The development of the drug was partly funded by the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014.

The agency's decision was based on a single phase 2 clinical trial that included 137 adult ALS patients. During the 24-month trial, the patients treated with Relyvrio experienced a slower decline in daily functioning than those receiving a placebo. In addition, the drug improved survival in ALS patients.

The FDA's decision was met with criticism from some who argued that there was not enough data to prove that the drug was effective. However, some other experts say the data from the phase 2 clinical trial is sufficient to allow access to ALS patients who otherwise have limited options for treatment.

Let Healthnews know what other medical innovations are worth being on the list by leaving a comment.

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