Hypertension Treatment Leads Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2012

Cleveland Clinic list includes robotic limbs and computerized mouthguard that tracks injuries for athletes.

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Clinic's top medical innovation for 2012 is a catheter-based procedure that could lower hypertension and heart disease. The Clinic announced its top 10 Medical Innovations for 2012 at its 2011 Medical Innovation Summit in Cleveland Oct. 5. The top selection is a 40-minute procedure called renal denervation.

In the first random controlled trial of renal denervation, 39 out of 52 patients receiving the treatment reached target blood pressure within six months. Overall, 50% of patients showed a measurable benefit from the treatment, according to the Clinic.

Other winning technologies include:

2. CT scans for early detection of lung cancer: The introduction of low-radiation-dose spiral computed tomography generates a series of detailed cross-sectional images of the lungs that create a 3-D image. The scans can identify tumors earlier and spot them when they're smaller and more treatable.

3. Concussion management for athletes: A special mouthguard can record all hits to the head and monitor all the data in real time. The data can be used by a doctor or trainer to determine an athlete's return to action.

4. Medical apps for mobile devices: Medical apps can provide health care providers with access to patients' personal health records and can be used to schedule and track medications, as well as answer patient questions more quickly.

5. Increasing discovery with next-generation gene sequencing: Next-generation sequencing machines can sequence everyone's genome on routine basis, says Gary Procop, chair of the Clinic's department of molecular biology. The current state of gene sequencing requires multiple sequencing reactions to analyze one gene or a portion of a gene, Procop says. New technologies speed up the process by sequencing many genes at one time.

6. Implantable device to treat complex brain aneurysms: A new minimally invasive procedure can treat aneurysms without open surgery by implanting an FDA-approved device directly into the artery.

7. Active bionic prosthesis/wearable robotic devices: A computerized bionic leg with microprocessors and computer chips can rival the functionality provided by biological limbs. This is particularly useful for people who have lost limbs because of heart problems or diabetes, says Wael Barsoum, the Clinic's chair of surgical operations. The robotic limb can reduce the amount of energy these people need to move around, Barsoum says.

8. Harnessing big data to improve health care: Companies have begun providing Internet-based technology that enables researchers and doctors to tap into the vast expanse of medical data and use the information to make health care decisions.

9. Novel diabetes therapy/SGLT2 inhibitors: A new class of drugs called sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 protein inhibitors block the return of high levels of glucose to the body in diabetes patients.

10. Genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce disease threat: Researchers launched trials in 2010 in the Caymen Islands where more than 3 million re-engineered male mosquitoes were released to mate with wild female species. The females couldn't produce offspring because the males were sterile, which resulted in an estimated 80% drop in the mosquito population in the area.

The top 10 technologies were based on nominations from more than 95 Cleveland Clinic physicians and researchers. To be considered for the award, the technologies had to show a significant clinical impact and patient benefit compared to current practices. It also had to show high user-related functionality that improves health care delivery.

In addition, the technology had to show a high probability of commercial success, be on the market by 2012 and demonstrate significant human interest in its application or benefits.

The Cleveland Clinic did not release the names of the companies involved in the research.

More from the 2011 Medical Innovation Summit:

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