Medical News From 2020 Other Than Covid-19

Medical research may have been slightly hindered by the pandemic but researchers were still able to make some amazing break-throughs anyway. Spanning from a treatment for Ebola to an Alzheimer's disease blood test, 2020 was actually packed with medical news besides Covid-19. Below we will get into some of the top headlines that you might have missed this year.

New Ebola Treatment


Even though it feels like it was just the other day, it was actually six years ago when the globe was occupied with a different virus: Ebola, specifically in West Africa. This October the FDA approved the first treatment for the deadly disease, Inmazeb.
The new monoclonal antibody mixture from Regeneron started its testing in 2018 during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The drug showed improved survival rates and researchers discovered that over 33% of patients who received Inmazeb died, as opposed to 51% of patients that received a control.
Monoclonal antibodies are special because they are made in a lab and are designed to imitate your body's natural immune response. On top of that, just this year, President Donal Trump received a different monoclonal antibody cocktail from Regeneron for Covid-19 when he went to the hospital.
This December the FDA approved a second, similar treatment for Ebola called Ebanga, produced by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

Four-in-One Pill to Lower Heart Problem Risks


Taking your medication is not known to be a fun task, so making it as simple and easy as possible is always welcome. In November of this year there was a new pill created that combines four different medications meant to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and added an aspirin on top.
The study of the drug included 5,713 participants and found that the pill lowered the risk of heart attack and stroke for at-risk patients by nearly a third.
The pill consists of a statin called simvastatin, a beta blocker called atenolol, a diuretic called hydrochlorothiazide, and an AVE inhibitor called ramipril. Luckily, these are all sold as generics so it could be a cost-effective way of treating patients that are at risk of certain heart events.
I'm sure many would agree that it would be easier to keep up with your doctor's recommendations if you can take just one pill instead of a regiment of four pills.
 



Alzheimer's Disease Blood Test


November is also the month when the first blood test to assist in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease became available in the United States.
The test works by measuring two types of amyloid proteins - a telling sign of Alzheimer's - and looks for evidence that a person might have a genetic risk for the disease. The makers, C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis, Missouri states it is meant for people of 60 year old or older that are having memory issues and who are already being evaluated for Alzheimer's.
However, the accuracy of the test and the data are not available to the public and it is not yet approved by the FDA. While some experts are skeptical, they say the blood test could still give doctors a clue about other problems that cause memory loss like medication side effects or vitamin deficiencies.

Weekly Insulin Shot


Living with Type 2 diabetes usually entails daily insulin shots, but in September, researchers at the Dallas Diabetes Research Center found that a once-a-week insulin shot was lowering blood sugar just as well as daily insulin shots.
Although the study conducted only consisted of 247 participants, it was still published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The hopes are high that Type 2 diabetes patients will be able to do a weekly shot and not have to worry with the logistics of doing a shot on a daily basis.

Pediatric Heart Hope


Last, but certainly not least, the FDA approved a heart pump that was created for use in children in need of a heart transplant.
The pump helps children with a specific heart condition called advanced refractory left ventricular heart failure, which requires a full heart transplant at some point. Without the transplant, the condition can be fatal because the heart is not strong enough to pump on its own.
Two years after the implant, The Abbott HeartMate 3, which is a permanent, lead patients to a 79% survival rate. This survival rate is comparable to the rate of survival of a complete heart transplant.
That being said, patients that undergo a heart transplant are generally put onto medications that prevent their body's immune response from attacking the new heart for the remainder of their lives. This is contrasted to a device like Abbott's that won't require similar medications.