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The "Top 10" Medical Innovations for 2009

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | December 10, 2008

6. New Strategies for Creating Vaccines for Avian Flu: A newer vaccine approach that uses a mock version of the bird virus called a virus-like particle (VLP) may offer a better solution to protect people against infection from the deadly avian virus.

5. Percutaneous Mitral Valve Regurgitation Repair: Using a tiny barbed, wishbone-shaped device, the heart is fixed non-surgically from the inside out. A catheter is carefully guided through the femoral artery in the groin, up to the heart's mitral valves. The clip on the tip of a catheter is then clamped on the center of the valve leaflets, which holds them together and quickly helps restore normal blood flow out through the leaflets.

4. Multi-Spectral Imaging Systems: The imaging system is attached to a standard microscope, where researchers can stain up to four proteins using different colors and look at tissue samples with 10 to 30 different wavelengths, allowing for the accumulation of more information than is currently available. This helps researchers to better understand the complicated signaling pathways in cancer cells, and to develop more targeted therapies, which might allow physicians to better personalize treatment for individual patients.

3. Diaphragm Pacing System: Four electrodes are connected to the phrenic nerves on the diaphragm. Wires from the electrodes run to and from a control box about the size of two decks of playing cards worn outside the body. When the electrodes are stimulated by current, the diaphragm contracts and air is sucked into the lungs. When not stimulated, the diaphragm relaxes and air moves out of the lungs.

2. Warm Organ Perfusion Device: Once a heart becomes available for transplant, surgeons have just four hours before the organ begins to decay. The perfusion device recreates conditions within the body to keep the heart pumping for up to 12 hours.

1. Use of Circulating Tumor Cell Technology: A blood test that measures circulating tumor cells - cancer cells that have broken away from an existing tumor and entered the bloodstream - has the ability to detect recurrent cancer sooner, while also predicting how well treatment is working and the patient's probable outcome. The test results will allow physicians to better monitor a patient's progress, adjusting treatment if necessary.

"Cleveland Clinic was founded by innovators, and this Top Ten list reflects the continuing passion for innovation of its scientists and clinicians," said Christopher Coburn, executive director, Innovations, the Cleveland Clinic's corporate venturing arm.