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Top 10 medical breakthroughs in 2023

Dr Alex McDonald (Board member, Physician’s Weekly) and Dr Rachel Giles (Medical Science Officer, Medicom Medical Publishers)
The medical field has witnessed numerous breakthroughs in 2023, offering hope for patients and paving the way for future advancements in healthcare. From novel therapies for debilitating diseases to innovative surgical techniques, these advancements have the potential to improve the lives of millions worldwide.

Dr Alex McDonald (Board Member at Physician’s Weekly, and family and sports doctor at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, USA) and Dr Rachel Giles (Medical Science Officer, Medicom Medical Publishers, and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands) worked together to name their top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2023.
1. Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI algorithms are being used to diagnose diseases earlier and more accurately, predict patient outcomes, and recommend personalised treatment plans.
2. Mental health

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) has helped to dispel myths and misconceptions about mental disorders, and has led to the development of more personalised and targeted mental health interventions.
3. The MIRASOL trial in ovarian cancer

Mirvetuximab soravtansine, an antibody-drug conjugate, was shown to be more effective than standard-of-care chemotherapy for patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.
4. Diabetes drugs in Parkinson’s disease

Lixisenatide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist, was shown to be effective in reducing motor symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
5. Catheter-directed therapies in acute pulmonary embolism

Catheter-directed therapy is a new treatment option for patients with intermediate- or high-risk pulmonary embolism. It involves delivering therapies directly into the thrombus in the pulmonary arteries.
6. Weight loss medications

Semaglutide, an injectible GLP-1 receptor agonist, was shown to be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with overweight or obesity but without diabetes.
7. Value-based healthcare

Value-based healthcare is a healthcare delivery model in which providers are paid based on patient health outcomes. This incentivises providers to improve patient health and reduce the incidence of chronic disease.
8. Health information data exchange

The Data Exchange Framework (DXF) was launched in California to facilitate the exchange of important health information among various providers and organisations.
9. Lecanemab for Alzheimer's disease

Lecanemab is the first FDA-approved drug shown to modify the course of Alzheimer’s disease. It was shown to reduce the amount of amyloid in the brains of patients with early Alzheimer’s and slowed their cognitive and functional decline.
10. Non-invasive prenatal DNA testing

NIPD and NIPT are revolutionary methods for prenatal paternity testing, genetic risk assessment, and gender determination. They offer greater accuracy than standard blood tests and ultrasound scans and do not carry the risk of miscarriage.

Further reading (partial list):

  1. Lincoff AM, et al. Semaglutide and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Obesity without Diabetes. New Engl J Med. 2023;389(24):2221-2232.
  2. Young CF, et al. Exploring SGLT-2 Inhibitors: Benefits beyond the Glucose-Lowering Effect—What Is New in 2023? Endocrines. 2023;4(3):630-655.
  3. Moore KN, et al. Phase 3 MIRASOL study. J Clin Oncol. 2023;41(17 suppl):LBA5507.
  4. Cocchi L, et al. Effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation of the rostromedial prefrontal cortex in obsessive–compulsive disorder: a randomized clinical trial. Nature Mental Health. 2023;1:555-563.
  5. Meissner WG, et al. LIXIPARK trial. Mov Disord. 2023; 38 (suppl 1).
  6. Athauda D, et al. Exenatide once weekly versus placebo in Parkinson's disease: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet. 2017;390(10103):1664-1675.
  7. Pietrasik A, et al. Catheter-directed therapy to treat intermediateand high-risk pulmonary embolism: Personal experience and review of the literature. Cardiol J. 2023;30(3):462-472.
  8. NEJM Catalyst. What Is Value-Based Healthcare? 2017
  9. Van Dijck CH, et al. Lecanemab in Early Alzheimer’s Disease. N Engl J Med. 2023;388:9-21.
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