Medical Musings: A 2012 forecast for medical products

October 19, 2011

Plastic processors want to know: Where is the medical device market headed in 2012?

A good place to start that investigation is a forecast released this month by the Cleveland Clinic, one of the foremost American medical institutions. A list of breakthrough devices and therapies was selected by a panel of Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists and unveiled during Cleveland Clinic's 2011 Medical Innovation Summit.

Four major criteria served as the basis for qualifying and selecting the Top 10 Medical Innovations. Nominated innovations were required to:

  • Have significant potential for short-term clinical impact (either a major improvement in patient benefit or an improved function that enhances healthcare delivery).
  • Have a high probability of success.
  • Be on the market or close to being introduced.
  • Have sufficient data available to support its nomination.

Here they are:

1.     Catheter-based renal denervation to control resistant hypertension. Studies show that disruption of nerve fibers on the kidney can reduce blood pressure and also help treat chronic kidney disease, insulin resistance, and heart failure. A Medtronic device based on this approach is already being used in Australia.

2.    CT scans for early detection of lung cancer. These scans identify tumors earlier, and also spot them when the tumors are smaller and more treatable by surgery.

3.    Concussion management system for athletes. A novel Concussion Management System includes a special assessment tool that is used to establish an athlete's baseline cognitive and motor skills at the beginning of his or her athletic season.

4.    Medical apps for mobile devices. Medical staff can answer patient queries quickly by accessing data remotely.

5.     Increasing discovery with next-generation gene sequencing. Leading geneticists envision a day soon when everyone's genome will be sequenced and included as a routine part of their medical records. Next-generation sequencing machines can help achieve this goal in the near future with the wider dissemination of faster and affordable sequencing machines.

6.    Implantable device to treat complex brain aneurysms. A new minimally invasive procedure can safely and effectively treat brain aneurysms without open surgery by implanting an FDA-approved device directly into the artery. Consisting of a flexible braided mesh tube made of platinum and nickel-cobalt chromium alloy, this device can be delivered by catheter and used to block off large, giant, or wide-necked aneurysms in the damaged internal carotid artery.

7.    Active bionic prosthesis. About 9 out of 10 amputations involve the leg, from the foot to above the knee. Here's a direct quote from the Cleveland Clinic's announcement: "Thanks to remarkable advances in prosthetics research in the last decade, space-age plastics and carbon-fiber composites have been engineered to help restore function."

8.    Harnessing big data to improve health care. Analytics can be applied to improve hospital operations and better track outcomes for clinical and surgical procedures. It can also be used to benchmark effectiveness-to-cost models.

9.    Novel diabetes therapy: SGLT2inhibitors. Most diabetes medications work by affecting the supply or use of insulin. Now there is a new class of drugs called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 protein inhibitors, or SGLT2 inhibitors. These drugs reduce blood sugar in a totally new way - by causing it to be excreted during urination.

10. Genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce disease threat. Researchers are now exploring new avenues to fight mosquitoes, starting in the laboratory where scientists manipulate the DNA of the insects.

Remember the old advertising campaign from the American Plastics Council called "Plastics Make It Happen"? Well, in terms of most of the breakthrough innovations coming in medical technology, plastics will make them possible through development of new compounds, tools, or processes.





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