From wearable bionic devices to a concussion management system for athletes, Cleveland Clinic’s Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2012 showcase new techniques, therapies and approaches to treating a host of medical conditions.

The list of breakthrough devices and therapies was selected by a panel of Cleveland Clinic physicians and scientists and unveiled during Cleveland Clinic’s 2011 Medical Innovation Summit.

The Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2012 are:

10. Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Reduce Disease Threat: Researchers are now exploring new avenues to fight mosquitoes, starting in the laboratory where scientists manipulate the DNA of the insects.

9. Novel Diabetes Therapy: SGLT2 Inhibitors: There are many diabetes medications; most work by affecting the supply or use of insulin, which helps move glucose into the cells. But now there is a new class of drugs ready for prime time called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 protein inhibitors, or SGLT2 inhibitors. These drugs represent a paradigm shift in diabetes treatment because they reduce blood sugar in a totally new way – by causing it to be excreted during urination.

8. Harnessing Big Data to Improve Heath Care: Health care data requires advanced technologies to efficiently process it in reasonable time, so organizations can create, collect, search, and share data, while still ensuring privacy. In this way, analytics can be applied to better hospital operations and tracking outcomes for clinical and surgical procedures. It can also be used to benchmark effectiveness-to-cost models.

7. Active Bionic Prosthesis: Wearable Robotic Devices: About 9 out of 10 amputations involve the leg, from the foot to above the knee. Thanks to remarkable advances in prosthetics research in the last decade, space-age plastics and carbon-fiber composites have been engineered to help restore function. Now comes the computerized bionic leg with its microprocessors and computer chips that can rival the functionality provided by biological limbs.

6. Implantable Device to Treat Complex Brain Aneurysms: A new minimally-invasive procedure can safely and effectively treat brain aneurysms without open surgery by implanting an FDA-approved device directly into the artery. Consisting of a flexible braided mesh tube made of platinum and nickel-cobalt chromium alloy, this device can be delivered by catheter and used to block off large, giant, or wide-necked aneurysms in the damaged internal carotid artery.

5. Increasing Discovery with Next-Generation Gene Sequencing: The best way to get to the root cause of serious illness is to sequence a person’s genome. Leading geneticists envision a day soon when everyone’s genome will be sequenced and included as a routine part of their medical records. Next-generation sequencing machines can help achieve this goal in the near future with the wider dissemination of faster and affordable sequencing machines.

4. Medical Apps for Mobile Devices: Medical apps have several significant advantages: reliable medical information is always up to date, doctors can answer patient queries quickly by accessing data without ever leaving the patient’s bedside, and many medical apps also have interactive features that help doctors choose appropriate screening tests for patients and calculate a patient’s risk of developing a host of diseases.

3. Concussion Management System for Athletes: Head injuries are now such a major medical concern in sports that special patient management tools have been developed. Used by athletes, they instantly detect brain injuries at the moment of contact, and provide patient-specific guidance about when athletes can return to play without risk of further harm. The novel Concussion Management System includes a special assessment tool that is used to establish an athlete’s baseline cognitive and motor skills at the beginning of his or her athletic season. This is the first tool that objectively and accurately assesses cognitive and motor function simultaneously.

2. CT Scans for Early Detection of Lung Cancer: With the introduction of low-radiation-dose spiral computed tomography (spiral CT), a high-tech scan can generate a series of detailed cross-sectional images of the lungs that are used to create a three-dimensional image. These scans can not only identify tumors earlier, but also spot them when the tumors are smaller and more treatable by surgery. Surgery is the best treatment for most types of lung cancer.

1. Catheter-Based Renal Denervation to Control Resistant Hypertension: Today, one in three adult Americans has hypertension, which puts them at significant risk for strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure. In fact, hypertension is the No. 1 risk factor for death in the world. Now, a new 40-minute catheterization procedure, called renal denervation, is approaching resistant hypertension in a new way – by targeting the renal sympathetic system, which consists of the small nerves that carry signals between the brain to the kidneys. Disruption of these nerve fibers has resulted in improved blood pressure levels, while also showing promise in treating chronic kidney disease, insulin resistance, and heart failure.

Four major criteria served as the basis for qualifying and selecting the Top 10 Medical Innovations. Nominated innovations were required to:

  • Have significant potential for short-term clinical impact (either a major improvement in patient benefit or an improved function that enhances healthcare delivery).
  • Have a high probability of success.
  • Be on the market or close to being introduced.
  • Have sufficient data available to support its nomination.

For more information about this year’s Medical Innovation Summit and the conference agenda, visit http://www.clevelandclinic.org/innovations/summit/