By Kayla Matthews, Productivity Bytes
Despite major advancements, the medical community continues to treat many conditions with no effective cure or long-term treatments — like cancer and heart disease.
For some diseases, this may change soon. Recent innovations, powered in part by initiatives like the FDA's Breakthrough Therapy designation, may lead to major benefits for some untreatable and difficult-to-treat conditions this year.
Here are six diseases and viruses likely to benefit the most from new and recent MedTech developments throughout 2020.
1. Mitral Valve Disease
Abbott, the medical device and healthcare company, announced earlier this year that it had secured the first EU acceptance for a transcatheter mitral valve replacement device. The system, which can replace the mitral valve in patients whose valve is too destroyed for surgical repair, can be delivered through a small incision in the chest. Doing this prevents the need for full open-heart surgery.
As a result, patients who cannot undergo open-heart surgery due to the high risk of complications have a new alternative for mitral valve replacement.
2. The Flu
New advances in MedTech may seriously improve existing treatments of the flu. New algorithms can use health data to intelligently predict the timing and severity of the flu season, giving clinics and medical providers more time to prepare for cases of this illness.
Newly developed high-dose vaccines, which contain four times the usual amount of flu vaccine, have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of contracting influenza. Other new vaccines include adjuvants, compounds that boost the human immune system and can provide better protection against the flu or improve the human immune response to the illness. One of these new vaccines was also developed solely by an AI — the first vaccine so far to be created in that way.
3. Pulmonary Hypertension (PH)
Pulmonary hypertension (or PH) is a condition where high blood pressure destroys the arteries in a person's lungs — and the right chamber of their heart, causing shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pressure. The condition can potentially lead to heart failure if not managed well. Despite the availability of multiple drug therapies, the disease itself remains hard to treat.
This quality may change soon. A new medical device for treating pulmonary hypertension was given breakthrough device designation earlier this year. Scientists designed the system to reduce the symptoms associated with PH and potentially reduce the workload that the disease puts on the lungs and heart.
Experts expect several different cancers and related diseases to become easier to detect as the result of the new disease technology developing this year.
One new system, developed by ProLung, is a cutting edge analytics tool that uses bioconductance to reduce the time it takes to diagnose a patient with lung cancer — potentially keeping the disease from growing and spreading.
Other new MedTech devices and techniques may also help improve the early detection of cancer and improve the diagnosis of tumors of unknown origin.
5. Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
EVD, which is caused by the Ebola virus, is a severe and often fatal disease that can spread quickly via contact with infected blood or body fluids.
EVD, because of the flu-like nature of its symptoms, has been traditionally hard to diagnose definitively, even in well-equipped clinical settings. This difficulty reduces the amount of time clinicians have to respond to an ailment where fast response time is critical in ensuring the best possible patient outcome. Doctors need to know what kind of illness they are facing to ensure safe handling and the lowest potential risk of further transmission.
Now, the FDA has allowed marketing for the first rapid diagnostic test that can detect the presence of Ebola virus antigens in symptomatic patients. Physicians can use it to test both blood and oral fluid. Ideally, it will help doctors identify cases of EVD quicker — allowing for the most effective treatment and reducing the risk of further viral transmission.
6. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — often referred to as COPD — is a group of progressive lung diseases. One of the most common of these disorders is chronic bronchitis, in which inflamed bronchial tubes cause symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing and increased mucus production. While COPD itself is untreatable, these symptoms can improve through the removal of damaged lung tissue.
Cryoablation devices, which use extreme cold to destroy diseased or unwanted tissue, have become increasingly popular across multiple areas of disease treatment trends.
The FDA granted breakthrough designation to a new cryotherapy spray used to treat patients with mild to severe COPD. The device sprays liquid nitrogen at negative 196 degrees Celsius to rapidly freeze the airway wall cells which produce the mucus that leads to COPD. This method leaves the healthy cells underneath intact.
The result is often symptom improvement, which can boost patients' quality of life.
MedTech May Improve Disease Treatment Trends In 2020
This year, MedTech may provide better treatment options and outcomes for patients with diseases that have traditionally been difficult to manage.
New disease technology and treatments and vaccines for the flu, various cancers, lung, and heart diseases are expected to improve symptoms and, potentially, the quality of life for patients.
About The Author
Kayla Matthews is a MedTech writer whose work has appeared on HIT Consultant, Medical Economics and HITECH Answers, among other industry publications. To read more from Kayla, please connect with her on LinkedIn, or visit her personal tech blog at https://productivitybytes.com.