2022 was an exciting year for medical breakthroughs. From a new treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to an implant designed to help spinal cord injury patients stand on their feet again, the world saw the discovery of innovative technologies that changed the health industry forever.
Clinical trials have revolutionised the medical field, allowing for the development of new treatments and drugs that have transformed patient care. As we step into 2023, several clinical trials are underway that could potentially shape the future of medicine. In this blog post, we'll explore five that have the potential to change the course of medicine as we know it.
1. Parkinson's Disease – Exenatide
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. While there are several treatments available, there is currently no cure for the disease. Exenatide, a drug that is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, is being studied as a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease. The drug has been shown to reduce inflammation and protect brain cells in preclinical studies. A phase III trial of exenatide is currently underway, and if the results are positive, it could be a significant development in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
2. Influenza - mRNA Vaccines
For decades, scientists have been researching and developing mRNA vaccines, which have the potential to revolutionise the way we approach vaccinations. Unlike traditional vaccines, mRNA vaccines utilise the genetic code of a virus to instruct the body to produce proteins that can help protect against the disease. This technology could be a game-changer for the flu vaccine, as it allows for faster development and production of vaccines in large batches without the need for growing cells. In 2023, several clinical trials of mRNA vaccines for influenza are expected to conclude. If the results are positive, mRNA vaccines could become the new standard for influenza vaccination, offering greater protection and fewer side effects than traditional vaccines.
3. Stroke paralysis - Stem cell therapy
For some patients, brain damage caused by a stroke can lead to paralysis. For years, researchers have been searching for a cure, and now they’re looking at a potential breakthrough: stem cell therapy. Early studies suggest that mesenchymal stem cells transplanted into the brain may be able to regenerate damaged brain tissue and promote functional recovery for stroke patients. Clinical studies have demonstrated the ability of mesenchymal stem cells to improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and encourage the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, ultimately leading to better neurological function. These discoveries have prompted human clinical trials to assess the long-term safety and effectiveness of mesenchymal stem cell therapy for stroke.
4. Rare diseases - Gene therapy
For people living with rare genetic diseases, the need for innovative treatments is urgent. Gene therapy – a type of treatment that involves introducing healthy genes into a patient's cells – is an increasingly viable treatment option. In 2023, several clinical trials of gene therapy are expected to conclude for rare diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy. If the results are positive, they could represent a significant medical breakthrough for those affected by rare diseases.
5. Cancer – CAR-T cell therapy
In recent years, CAR-T cells have shown astonishing results in the treatment of hematologic cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Based on this success, several trials are currently underway around the world. In Australia, several trials are being conducted to assess the early treatment of lymphoma with CAR-T cell therapy, the use of T-cells from a donor (rather than using the patient’s own T-cells), and how to deliver CAR-T cell therapy in a way that minimises unwanted side effects. If researchers discover a way to make CAR-T cell therapy safer and more accessible, it could have a significant positive impact on the 135,000 Australians living with blood cancer.