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Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2014


Which are the up-and-coming technologies and which will have the biggest impact on healthcare in 2014?

Cleveland Clinic's culture of innovation naturally fosters a good deal of discussion about new "game changing" technologies and which ones will have the greatest impact each year. The passion of our clinicians and researchers for getting the best care for patients drives a continuous dialogue on what state-of-the art medical technologies are just over the horizon.

This book was developed to share outside Cleveland Clinic what our clinical leaders are saying to each other and what innovations they feel will help shape healthcare over the next 12 months.


#1 Retinal Prosthesis

In a healthy eye, the rods and cones of the retina are specialized cells that convert light into tiny electrochemical impulses that are sent via the optic nerve into the brain, where they are decoded into images. However, if these delicate photoreceptors are ever damaged, the initial step in the process is disrupted and the visual system cannot transform light into images, leading to blindness...

#1 Retinal Prosthesis

Retinal prostheses have now been successfully implanted into over 130 patients around the world and are beginning to be tested for other patients who are blind due to a variety of diseases other than retinitis pigmentosa. Positive, long-term study results published in early 2015 affirm novel improvement in these patients’ quality of life and independence.

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#2 Genome-Guided Solid Tumor Diagnostics

Too often, men and women hear the words "prostate cancer," "breast cancer," and "colorectal cancer" from their doctors and they immediately think the worst. Many times the aggressive therapies are unnecessary that are offered or demanded. However, there are now genomic-based tests that can make these treatment decisions much easier and more reliable.

#2 Genome-Guided Solid Tumor Diagnostics

With continuing research, genomic tests are now available for various types of cancer; including brain, lung, thyroid, pancreatic and melanoma. Multiple clinical trials are ongoing to evaluate the efficacy of integrating genomic-driven tumor testing, with databases compiling data to compare treatment options based on genomics rather than cancer type. By 2016, this growing field of genome-guided tumor diagnostics has an expected market value of $26 billion.

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#3 Responsive Neurostimulator for Intractable Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that produces seizures—brief disturbances in the normal electrical activity of the brain—that affect various mental and physical functions. Seizures happen when clusters of nerve cells in the brain signal abnormally, which may briefly alter a person’s consciousness or movements. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, he or she is considered to have epilepsy.

#3 Responsive Neurostimulator for Intractable Epilepsy

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#4 New Era in Hepatitis C Treatment

Hepatitis C infection, a common liver disease that affects an estimated four million people in the United States, is transmitted through exposure to infected blood (blood was not screened effectively for hepatitis C until 1992) or sexual contact with an infected person. The majority of people with the ailment don’t realize that they have the disease because of a lack of symptoms.

#4 New Era in Hepatitis C Treatment

New study results have revealed that patients following this treatment regimen had a sustained virologic response rate of up to 99% after four weeks; giving physicians hope that the disease could be completely eradicated in the near future. 

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#5 Perioperative Decision Support System

Anesthesia is given to patients to inhibit pain, sedate the body, and also regulate various bodily functions in surgery. Today, there are 51 million hospital surgical procedures performed annually in the United States, most which are not possible without anesthesia. Before the discovery of anesthesia and the first painless surgery in 1842, surgical patients had their pain dulled with opium or copious amounts of alcohol.

#5 Perioperative Decision Support System

Studies analyzing this system’s effects on patient outcomes found that use of this tool lead to an increase in the physician’s adherence to guidelines and a reduction of the number of incorrect decisions made that would lead to unnecessary costs, making it a valuable tool for anesthesiologists overlooking multiple patients.

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#6 Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

Many hospitalized patients develop hospital-acquired infections, oftentimes due, paradoxically, to broad-spectrum and fluoroquinolone antibiotic therapy used for medical treatment. Antibiotics, which are supposed to kill bacteria, can also increase the odds of some people developing a dangerous and potentially lethal infection from rod-shaped bacteria called Clostridium difficile, or C. diff.

#6 Fecal Microbiota Transplantation

Fecal transplants have had huge successes as treatment for C. Diff. with cure rates of over 90%, and now more research is being conducted to evaluate the efficacy of fecal transplants for a multitude of other gastrointestinal problems, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease.

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#7 Relaxin for Acute Heart Failure

Heart failure is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood to supply the body. Symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, and fluid retention are caused by a weakened or stiffened heart, significantly diminishing its ability to fill normally or effectively distribute blood. According to the American Heart Association, approximately five million people experience heart failure in the United States and more than half a million new cases are diagnosed annually in this country.

#7 Relaxin for Acute Heart Failure

This drug was denied FDA approval in 2014 because of a lack of evidence to prove efficacy, and the advisory board is awaiting Phase III clinical trial data that will be released in 2016 to make its next decision.

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#8 Computer-Assisted Personalized Sedation Station

A colonoscopy is an exam that lets a gastroenterologist look closely at the inside of the entire colon and rectum for polyps, the small growths that over time can become cancerous. Using a colonoscope, a thin, flexible, hollow, lighted tube that has a tiny video camera on the end, the doctor sends pictures to a TV screen. The exam itself takes about 30 minutes. Patients are usually given light sedation to help them relax and sleep while the procedure is performed.

#8 Computer-Assisted Personalized Sedation Station

These systems have cut the cost of sedation during a typical colonoscopy from $2,000 to about $250 with speedier recoveries and higher patient satisfaction. While there is lingering stigma about using a machine rather than a doctor, its success has inspired research into more advanced systems to be used for difficult and complicated procedures such as brain and heart surgery.

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#9 TMAO ASSAY: Novel Biomaker for the Microbiome

There is a global hunt in progress using a variety of cardiovascular fingerprints—scientists call them biomarkers—that have been discovered or created to help identify the initiation, development, and ongoing cascade of damage caused by heart disease.

#9 TMAO ASSAY: Novel Biomaker for the Microbiome

Along with an increased risk of heart disease, TMAO has now been linked as a biomarker for chronic kidney disease, creating a spiral affect that further increases the risk of heart disease. Research is now being conducted for medications that block the presence of this biomarker in the bloodstream, hoping to eliminate the increased risk for these diseases.

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#10 B-Cell Receptor Pathway Inhibitors

Chemotherapy is a blunt instrument designed to indiscriminately kill rapidly dividing cells in the hope that the cancer cells die more and grow back less than healthy cells. That normal cells are routinely damaged in this destructive procedure accounts for the side effects and toxicity of traditional chemotherapy.

#10 B-Cell Receptor Pathway Inhibitors

This drug is now FDA approved to treat three different kinds of rare blood cancer and is being studied in another 13 clinical trials as treatment for several other blood cancers. It’s the only therapy to receive three Breakthrough Therapy Designations by the FDA.

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Innovations has facilitated several Cleveland Clinic Spin-Offs over the last decade. Click here to see our current portfolio.

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