Not too long ago, the idea of implanting a chip in a person’s brain to control neurological disorders such as epilepsy or restore movement in people with paralysis was mere science fiction. Now the RNS System is being used successfully to treat people with epilepsy, and implants are being developed to restore movement and repair connections that instruct muscles in people with paralysis.
So-called bionic body parts — prosthetics that can pick up signals transmitted from nearby muscles and through a system of sensors and a microprocessor allow the limb to respond to information in the environment to work in a near-natural way — used to be the subject of television shows. Now, they are being developed for wider use among paraplegics and amputees.
Blood tests without needles or pain are no longer wishful thinking. A method has been developed that involves taking only a drop of blood from the tip of a finger, and it can be used for over 100 tests. This is a look into the brave new world of medicine that will continue to unfold in 2015.
The Top Ten
Your medical malpractice attorney has taken a look at what Cleveland Clinic calls its annual Top Ten list of modern miracles for the upcoming year. A few of the highlights include:
- A mobile stroke unit staffed with a paramedic, critical care nurse and a CT technologist linked in via broadband to hospital neurologists;
- Self-injectable drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors that lower cholesterol and will help those for whom statins are not effective are expected to be approved by the FDA in 2015;
- A new drug for heart failure, single dose radiation therapy for breast cancer and a wireless cardiac pacemaker approximately the size of a vitamin also make the list.
Not making the list, but nonetheless promised for 2015, are some breakthroughs in anti-viral medicine. A vaccine for Dengue fever is expected to be available this year. Dengue fever is carried by mosquitoes and threatens half the world’s population. Vaccines for MERS and measles have been developed and are awaiting FDA approval. The groundbreaking drug Solvadi was approved by the FDA in 2014 for treatment of Hepatitis C. It eradicates the disease in 90 percent of the patients who use it.
Science Fiction Becomes Fact
What may be the most significant development expected in the year to come has already begun. In December of 2014, Organovo and Yale’s School of Medicine and Engineering announced a partnership that will focus on research into printing transplantable tissue.
The partnership has already developed transplantable blood vessels, lung tissue and bone and 3-D printed them. The goal is to expand the development and printing of tissue into that of whole organs. The advantage of 3-D printing organs is that they are made from a patient’s own tissue and therefore chances of organ rejection are reduced.
Also, the obvious benefit of not having to rely on a donor for an organ adds immense longevity to people with organ disease since thousands of people die every day while waiting for donor organs.
Is it Too Much Too Fast?
All of these innovations sound good, and some seem almost too good to be true. In the furious pursuit of ways to treat diseases and improve lives, has safety been sacrificed? Has the glitter of revolutionary ideas outshone the substance and safety of the medical process?
Checks and balances are needed to ensure the integrity of research, development and marketing. Medical malpractice and product liability lawsuits are just two ways in which the legal profession helps to promote transparency in medical practice and products.
Contact an Attorney
If you or someone you know has suffered harm from a prescribed drug or medical procedure, contact Jordan Levine at the Levine Law Firm to discuss your legal rights.