As we are nearing the end of 2021, the medical community can surely pat themselves on their backs for the mindblowing years the field has had in terms of the progress made. While you may have gone through your Spotify list or the most-liked videos on YouTube and the like, we’ve got you something closer home– 2021’s most groundbreaking medical breakthroughs!
Let’s take a look!
Did you know a significant number of women suffer from vaginal yeast infections each year? While many are unaware of this problem, many others take OTC medications. But, yeast that causes this infection can be stubborn at times, and many routine antifungals fail. Brexafemme is a novel antifungal that has been developed. It belongs to a class called triterpenoids. The drug works by blocking an enzyme that forms the protective coat around Candida fungi. Brexafemme is a two-tablet formulation and remains in the body for around two weeks to prevent a recurrence.
Regular monitoring of implantable devices like pacemakers and defibrillators is not new. But, what is new in 2021 is that these implantable devices are now connected to smartphones, making it convenient for a patient to track their heart health, and get a better insight into the data that their pacemakers are recording. The data and reports are also easily transmitted to the patient’s physicians.
Immunologics for Migraine Prophylaxis
Migraines affect nearly 1 billion people worldwide. We all know someone who is suffering from this condition. There are plenty of medications like – anti-hypertensive drugs, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and botox injections tried to relieve migraine symptoms. However, these have not been developed specifically for the condition. After an FDA approval in 2020, immunologics were developed to block calcitonin gene-related peptides (CRGP), the chemical substance that spikes during migraines. This has initiated the beginning of the migraine-specific therapeutic drug range and we can hope for more such drugs in the near future!
We all know that early detection of cancer improves prognosis and survival rates in patients. But, the existing tests and diagnostics were not giving us early results, were they? In 2021, early detection of cancer was made possible by the Galleri Test. The test is based on screening blood samples for DNA fragments and can help detect over 50 types of cancers. This technology is on a fast track for FDA approval and is currently undergoing clinical trials in a large population. Will this be a game-changer in cancer care?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world nearly 2 years ago, the Ebola virus was wreaking havoc in different pockets of the world. People infected with the disease usually experience very high fever, severe bleeding and organ failures, with nearly 50% of cases leading to death. In 2021, researchers at the biotech company Regeneron created Inmazeb, a combination of three monoclonal antibodies to target the proteins on the Ebola virus. The drug also received emergency-use authorization from the FDA.
Gene Editing and Therapy
CRISPR is a gene-editing tool that researchers have been using since 2012 to help edit the human genome and treat diseases that arise from DNA mutations. The technique was being used to treat diseases with mutations in the bloodstream such as sickle cell anaemia. But, in 2021, for the first time in the history of medicine, researchers used this technique to inject stem cells in six patients to fix a genetic defect that lead to transthyretin amyloidosis. Though there are miles to go this tool finds its way to the market and regular use, it can surely be a game-changer in treating genetic conditions.
FDA-Approved Treatment for Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome occurs due to genetic mutations in the protein found in nuclei of the patient’s cells. The faulty protein called progerin prompts cells to die prematurely. Due to this, patients with this syndrome rarely live beyond 15 years of age. Existing treatments only help resolve and relieve symptoms and complications but cannot treat the condition. However, Eiger Pharmaceuticals brought out a drug called Zokinvy in 2021 to treat Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome and this surely is a first.
Zokinvy works by preventing the build-up of progerin protein and reducing the damage it can cause on cells. This is sure to add many more years to the life of children suffering from the condition and reduce other symptoms observed in the condition.
Malaria is a prevalent monsoon disease found in many countries worldwide. Believe it or not, it kills around half a million people each year. 2021 saw the birth of the first anti-malarial vaccine. The vaccine is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and named the Mosquirix. Though it provides only 50% protection against severe malaria, it sure is an effective way to prevent the disease.
Semglee– World’s Most-Affordable Insulin
Diabetes is a prevalent lifestyle disease and around 537 million adults in the 29-79 years age group are living with it. Many of these people take insulin and despite the sheer volume of its demand, insulin is injections are expensive. Well, not anymore! Say ‘Hello!’ to Semglee, a biosimilar insulin product that is the first of its kind to receive a nod from the FDA. This insulin shot is available in 10 mL vials and 3 mL prefilled pens for daily subcutaneous administration. It is medically quite identical to Lantus, the brand name for insulin available widely today.
mRNA Vaccines for COVID-19
As the world was trying to understand this notorious, invisible microbe causing wreckage across the world, two companies Moderna and Pfizer, along with their respective research institute tie-ups, brought to the world the first-ever mRNA vaccines. Though both these biopharmaceutical giants have been preparing mRNA vaccines for decades, they were prompt enough to prepare shots to fight the SARS-CoV-2.
The dual shot of Pfizer’s Comirnaty (developed along with BioNTech) and Moderna’s SpikeVax (prepared with National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease) showed remarkable results in clinical trials, with Pfizer’s shot being as effective as 94% against the novel coronavirus. These vaccines deserve the top slot of this year’s medical roundup for having saved the lives of billions across the world and continue to do so.
With a hopeful 2022, TheCheckup wishes you all a Happy & Prosperous New Year!