For the past six months, health-related news coverage has focused primarily on COVID-19 and progress towards vaccines and drug therapies. With so much attention given to COVID-19, you may have overlooked health advances related to other conditions. At Better Health Advisors, the team stays abreast of the latest medical advances so that we can inform clients of new and promising developments that may improve their health. 

ICYMI: Here are 5 recent medical advances that could benefit you or a loved one in the future: 

  1. Blood Test for Alzheimer's Disease
  • In a recent Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) study, the trial stage for a new blood test showed that it was highly accurate (96%) for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. Currently, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis relies mostly on patient and family interviews and clinical assessments, which can be inaccurate.
  • The new test determines whether a patient has Alzheimer's disease or another neurodegenerative disorder. The test’s ability to distinguish between diseases gives clarity to patients and their support systems.  If used clinically, the test would be able to detect Alzheimer's in the brain 20 years before the patient began experiencing memory and thinking problems. 
  • Next steps: Clinical trials need to be conducted with a larger, more racially diverse population. The test may be available for clinical use in two or three years. 

 

  1. AI and Robots for Parkinson's Disease
  • In a study conducted by an international team, researchers leveraged artificial intelligence techniques to propose improvements to robotic devices  that assist people who experience hand tremors. Their model was more effective at tremor management than any of the existing approaches.
  • Next steps: Because the model requires strong computational support, researchers are working on a cloud computing approach. They hope developers will be able to use it to enhance assistive technology. 

 

  1. Less Addictive Opioid for Osteoarthritis: 
  • In a recent preclinical study by the University of Southern California, researchers discovered that a new opioid medication (kappa opioid) activates the kappa opioid receptor to alleviate pain at the site of injury. This medication may lead to less substance dependency. The kappa opioids may also work to prevent loss of cartilage and to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. 
  • Next steps: Additional research is needed, but if kappa opioids prove safe and effective, people with osteoarthritis will have more treatment and pain management options. 

 

  1. First Immunotherapy for Peanut Allergies
  • PALFORZIA, an FDA-approved treatment, is now available for people with a peanut allergy. This oral immunotherapy seeks to mitigate allergic reactions and is approved for people ages four and older who have a diagnosed peanut allergy. 
  • “Not only is PALFORZIA the first approved therapy for peanut allergy, but it is the first approved therapy for any food allergy,” said Daniel Adelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Aimmune Therapeutics. This drug approval is an exciting breakthrough for patients and the medical community. 
  • Special Note: As with any medication, patients are advised to consult with their doctor before making medication decisions. 

 

  1. New Drug for Heart Failure and Type 2 Diabetes
  • According to the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC), the FDA has approved a new drug, Farxiga (dapagliflozin), to treat heart failure, which contributes to 1 in 8 deaths. 
  • Farxiga oral tablets can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalizations for heart failure. 
  • Originally developed for people with type 2 diabetes (T2D), this drug also helps people without T2D who are at risk of heart failure. 

Medical advances like these are promising for the future of healthcare delivery. We’ll continue to share insights on medical advances, and you’re welcome to reach out if you have specific concerns.


*Please note: Better Health Advisors is an independent health advisory firm. BHA is not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the researchers or companies mentioned in this blog post.