Thursday, July 31, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Medical advances that occurred in 2013

By
From page B10 | December 28, 2013 |

Medical research continues to result in advances in care, largely as a result of improved technology and more sophisticated understanding of human physiology.

Consider these recent medical breakthroughs, and you may share my sense of optimism as we contemplate the future:

Artificial vision technologyThe Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, now approved for use in the United States and Europe, is intended to restore vision to the blind, specifically in the case of retinitis pigmentosa. Argus II conveys information from sunglass-mounted receptors to electrodes in the eye. Implanting the system reportedly costs up to one million dollars, however. Future systems being currently researched may involve deep brain stimulation to restore vision.

Improved hepatitis C treatmentsUp to 3.2 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus. New drugs, such as the recently introduced sofosbuvir, improve the success rate of treatments to as high as 95 percent. Moreover, these advances may obviate the need to use interferon, which is poorly tolerated by many patients. A 24-week course of sofosbuvir may cost as much as $168,000, however.

Preventing heart attacksTrimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) emerged in a Cleveland Clinic study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as a possible marker for increased risk of heart disease. This compound appears to be of intestinal origin, deriving from the metabolic activity of gut bacteria. Coming on the heels of previous studies linking heart disease to inflammatory markers in the blood, this suggests that there may be immunological aspects to heart disease, perhaps related to specific bacterial agents harbored in the human body. More research is necessary to parse out issues related to the specific clinical utility of these observations.

Better cancer treatmentsAntibody-drug conjugates are being developed as “smart bombs” against cancer. An example is Kadcyta, a drug approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. This compound penetrates tumor cells and releases targeted chemotherapy. It identifies the target cells by binding to a specific cellular marker, called HER-2.

Cancer diagnosis improvementsFor breast cancer screening, 3-D mammography may emerge as a useful tool. A study of 25,000 women revealed early detection of breast cancer using this technology. The FDA also approved a device for detection of malignant melanoma skin cancers. The MelaFind system combines imaging of skin lesions with analytic paradigms. This would not, of course, replace the need for a dermatologist’s expert opinion.

Early diagnosis of dementiaAlthough a neurological examination is critical, we are seeing a greater role for early detection of brain damage. For example MRIs are being used to find early subtle signs of brain atrophy in both Alzheimer’s and fronto-temporal dementia.

Universal red blood cellsOnly type-O is a “universal donor” for blood transfusions. Stem cell research is emerging that may result in the production of O-negative blood cells in clinically useful quantities. Indeed, stem cells may emerge as a more effective strategy than organ transplantation for replacing a variety of diseased or damaged body tissues.

Joint replacement sensors. Wireless sensors, measuring load strain, temperature and other parameters, are being developed for the purpose of monitoring replaced joints for signs of early failure. We are moving toward more effective monitoring of these joints, which should benefit patients in years to come.

The debates surrounding the Affordable Care Act dominated the news in 2013. Leaving politics aside, health care costs will continue to challenge our society. As I see it, preventing disease is generally a cost-effective strategy. For example, it makes sense to prevent skin cancer by minimizing sun exposure and using sunscreen. If prevention fails, however, it is comforting to realize that better diagnostic and treatment options are emerging.

Here’s wishing you a happy, and healthy, New Year!

Scott T. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D. (stamdphd@comcast.net) is clinical professor of medicine, UC Davis. This column is informational, and does not constitute medical advice.

Scott Anderson

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Cities dealing with state drought rules

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Muralist helps locals ready for some painted wall history

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

It’s ‘camping for 30′ at the Solano fair

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Rejection makes us each stronger

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Highway 12 crash sends 2 to hospital

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Mall to host Ultimate Army Throw Down

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Police release name of Vallejo homicide victim

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4, 8 Comments | Gallery

 
Police investigate Fairfield shooting

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Peace Corps evacuates over Ebola as 2 isolated

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Pipe break that flooded UCLA dumps 20M gallons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Deadly Israeli strikes hit UN school, market area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Obama takes tougher line against Gaza casualties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 8 Comments

AP Analysis: Amid war, endgames in Gaza emerge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
2 women survive ordeal along Indiana rail bridge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ex-IRS official called conservatives ‘crazies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 6 Comments

 
Dissent quieted with most Israelis behind Gaza war

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 14 Comments

 
Congress cooperates – and fights – as recess nears

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Powell maybe not told early about CIA techniques

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Crews work to keep Yosemite fire from sequoias

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Sanctions will damage Russia if not lifted quickly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Clashes prevent experts from reaching bodies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
Cruz gets border crisis wrong

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11, 8 Comments

Editorial Cartoons: July 31, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
What happened to the US?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 18 Comments

Am I blaming victims?

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: July 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for July 31, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes for July 31, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
I want to change my daughters last name to my maiden name

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Commentary: ‘Orphan Black,’ Emmy snubs and questions of identity

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Allison Williams headed skyward as NBC’s Peter Pan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Contract dispute delays ‘Big Bang’ production

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Hammel fails again for Athletics in loss to Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Ray Guy’s long wait for Hall of Fame comes to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Raiders owner confirms talks with San Antonio

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Lloyd’s film watching impresses 49ers teammates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

SF benefits from Pirates’ blunder, ends skid at 6

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Complete game shutout lifts Expos to State Tournament win

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stanford star Ty Montgomery rehabbing shoulder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Greg Ives to crew chief Earnhardt in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Steelers to retire Hall of Famer Greene’s No. 75

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Fairfield-Suisun 6U Bobby Sox win titles

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

Usain Bolt in controversy at Commonwealth Games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Indians trade pitcher Masterson to Cardinals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Riley speaks out, insists Heat will be competitive

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Nadal out of 2 tournaments because of right wrist

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Pipe break that flooded UCLA dumps 20M gallons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

US judge slaps $1.3B fine on Bank of America

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

 
A more vigorous US economy appears to be emerging

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Overhaul approved for troubled California refinery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Judge says Crystal CEO should testify in lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

.

Obituaries

Louise Scholten

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Ronald Witt Escue Sr.

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Scott Allen Shaver

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9