4 medical innovations that will revolutionize healthcare in 2016

Rapid development of epidemic-fighting vaccines, genomics-based clinical trials and a new gene-editing technique called CRISPR topped the Cleveland Clinic's annual list of the most promising medical innovations.

The top 10 treatments, devices and initiatives expected to most improve healthcare worldwide in 2016, ranked in order, were unveiled at the Cleveland Clinic's 13th annual Medical Innovation Summit this week. 

The following innovations could drastically broaden hospitals' ability to improve care for huge swaths of their patients by the end of 2016:

  • Fast-tracked vaccines. Advances in genetic engineering are giving scientists the increased ability to target new viruses that threaten public health, such as Ebola, and develop effective treatments quickly. "The technique of making vaccines has changed so much that we're not going to have to worry about disease spreading anywhere as much as we have in the past," Michael Roizen, M.D., the Clinic's chief wellness officer, said at the event, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  • Genomics-based clinical trials. Genomic testing allows physicians to target treatments for specific DNA markers of a patient's disease, making it possible for patients to quickly enter clinical trials matched to their condition. These advances could especially help end-stage cancer patients get effective treatment promptly, Cleveland Clinic notes.
  • Lifelike artificial limbs. With the help of implanted sensors, it's possible for artificial-limb recipients to not just register sensation through a prosthetic but also control movement of the device with their minds. Although currently cost-prohibitive and only available in supervised provider settings, groups are working to make systems with lower cost robotic components that can be used in the home. 
  • Neurovascular stent retrievers. As the first alternative to clot-busting drugs to treat emergency stroke patients, a wire-caged device can now be threaded through a patient's blood vessels to catch and remove clots from the bloodstream. The devices, expected to be widely deployed throughout hospitals within the next year, show promise to speed recoveries and improve patients' chances for regaining independence.

This year's list of breakthrough drug therapies, medical devices and public health initiatives were selected by a panel of 75 Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists.

The Cleveland Clinic's list of top innovations for 2015 included developments in mobile stroke care, vaccine development and treatment of various cancers, in addition to new treatments for high cholesterol, lung disease and heart disease.

To learn more:
- see the full list and view previous years' lists here
- here's the Plain Dealer article