There is a health story in almost the entire 2020 headlines: the coronavirus pandemic.
However, although Covid-19 did slow down medical research in other fields, science has not stopped. Researchers have introduced new ways to deal with common diseases, and can even treat another frightening virus.
The following are possible achievements in 2020 under public attention.
Ebola virus treatment
Six years ago, the world began to pay attention to another virus: the Ebola virus in West Africa. In October, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Inmazeb, the first treatment for a deadly disease.
Inmazeb is a mixture of monoclonal antibodies produced by the drug maker Regeneron. A study that began during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 201
Monoclonal antibodies are manufactured in the laboratory and can mimic the body’s natural immune response. This year, Regeneron also developed a monoclonal antibody mixture for Covid-19, which President Donald Trump received when he was hospitalized for the disease.
In December, the FDA approved Ebola, the second treatment method for another monoclonal antibody drug Ebola produced by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
Insulin injection once a week
People with type 2 diabetes may be relieved by using the experimental form of insulin with daily injections. In September, researchers at the Dallas Diabetes Research Center found that for patients with type 2 diabetes, weekly insulin injections can lower blood sugar, while daily insulin injections can lower blood sugar.
Although the study is relatively small, with only 247 participants, it has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The hope is that patients with type 2 diabetes are more likely to insist on weekly injections than daily injections.
A pill that reduces the risk of heart disease
In November, a single pill that combines four drugs that lower blood pressure and cholesterol with aspirin was discovered to reduce the risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer in the United States.
A large study of 5,713 participants published in November found that so-called polyp pills can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in high-risk patients by nearly a third.
The polyp medicine used in the study is a statin called simvastatin, a beta-blocker called atenolol, a diuretic called hydrochlorothiazide and a kind called ramipr A combination of beneficial ACE inhibitors. All products are sold as generic drugs, which means this may be a low-cost way to treat patients at risk of heart disease.
More importantly, if patients only need to fill and take one pill instead of four, then they are more likely to follow the doctor’s instructions.
Blood tests to look for Alzheimer’s disease
Also in November, the United States conducted the first blood test that can help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease
The test, from C2N Diagnostics in St. Louis, Missouri, detects two types of amyloid (often regarded as a sign of Alzheimer’s disease) and looks for evidence that someone has genetic risk factors for the disease. It is suitable for people over 60 years of age who have memory problems and are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s disease. It is expensive ($1,250) and has no medical insurance. It is generally expected that results will be produced within 10 days.
Data about the accuracy of the test has not been made public and has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. External experts remain cautious, but said that even if the blood test shows that the possibility of real Alzheimer’s disease is low, it can also provide doctors with clues that other reasons may cause memory problems, such as drug side effects or Vitamin deficiency.
Efforts to cure sickle cell disease
In early December, initial research on gene editing brought early but promising results. The research involved extremely painful inherited blood diseases, most likely to occur in people of African descent.
The technology, called CRISPR, involves permanently changing the DNA in human blood cells. This method may cure sickle cell disease, in which crescent-shaped red blood cells gather together so that they cannot easily flow throughout the body, starving organs and tissues to death.
Using CRISPR, doctors can basically turn off the defective gene that causes the problem. In the study, 10 patients were able to maintain pain-free episodes for at least a few months and were able to avoid the regular blood transfusions previously necessary to treat their diseases.
The only other possible treatment for sickle cell disease is a complex bone marrow transplant from a closely matched donor without the disease.
The hope of a child’s heart
One of the latest developments in 2020 is the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of heart pumps for children who need heart transplants.
Abbott’s HeartMate 3 heart pump is suitable for children with special conditions. This condition is called advanced refractory left ventricular heart failure and requires a complete heart transplant. Without intervention, this situation will be fatal because the heart is too weak to twitch on its own.
Two years after the permanent implantation, Abbott said that the survival rate of patients receiving the pump is about 79% as that of patients receiving a heart transplant.
But patients undergoing heart transplant surgery must take drugs to suppress the body’s natural immune response, thereby attacking the new heart for life. Devices like Abbott do not require this drug.
Follow NBC HEALTH on Twitter and Facebook.