Thursday, September 18, 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

 
Suisun council candidates all voice business-friendly platforms

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Theatre DeVille in Vacaville closes

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

Focus on school attendance now, always

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Pepperbelly’s for sale

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Jury selection begins in 2011 Fairfield murder trial

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Seniors get help at Kroc Center health fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Drug court success stories tell their tales

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Suisun City Senior Center seeks holiday donations

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Lunafest returns to Fairfield in November

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Weather for Sept. 18, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

Emotions mount on final day of Scottish campaign

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
More than 2,000 homes threatened in California fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Maps provide early warning of California fire risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
House grudgingly approves arms for Syrian rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ex-VA doctor: Phoenix report a ‘whitewash’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
School district police stock up free military gear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

NASA’s Maven spacecraft reaches Mars this weekend

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US military role in Iraq raises combat questions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Police: Ambush suspect was military re-enactor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
AP Interview: Iraq premier says no foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Doctor says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
US scientist: Ebola unlikely to become airborne

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Liberia president praises US for Ebola help pledge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Obama reaffirms opposition to US combat in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

.

Opinion

 
Give new crime report a chance

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 5 Comments

 
Homeless find welcome in Vallejo

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 6 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My brother fails to make an effort to when it comes to my kids

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

U2 returns to iTunes Top 100 — 26 times

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: B4

 
Directors Guild finds TV diversity hiring stalled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
.

Sports

Giants snap tie in 9th, beat Arizona to narrow gap in West to 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers’ Kaepernick fined for inappropriate language

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Rodriguez gets 1st MEL soccer win since return to league

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Umpire West suspended 1 game for grabbing jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
After making ‘mistake,’ Vikings bench RB Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sharks sign D Braun to 5-year, $19 M extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockets acquire Jason Terry, picks from Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Panthers remove DE Greg Hardy from active roster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Barry Bonds appeal heads back to court

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL, union agree to new drug policy, HGH testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders rookie Derek Carr focuses on job at hand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Pegulas’ bid to buy Bills OK’d by NFL committee

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
FSU benches Winston for 1st half of Clemson game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Brown signs ride-sharing insurance legislation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US homebuilder confidence soars in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Anthem, hospitals join to offer new insurance plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Drag queens dress down Facebook over names

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Wells Fargo pays $290,000 in sex harassment case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Fed signals plan to keep key rate at record low

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

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

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9