Hi, it’s Dr. Jeffrey Mark. The end of 2021 is fast approaching. Looking back, the past year has again been dominated by the pandemic with SARS COV 2 now with the latest rendition of the virus in the form of Omicron. But medical breakthroughs were accomplished in 2021 that were not as well noticed as the most prominent breakthrough of the messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna against the spike protein of the original SARS COV 2. The messenger RNA technology was in development for decades and the adaptability to modify the genetic codes fairly rapidly in response to new variants may be helpful as new variants beyond Omicron emerge in 2022.
New lab tests to screen for Cancer and Alzheimer’s
There were innovations in testing this past year with a new technology that screens a blood sample for DNA fragments from more than 50 types of cancer. Interim results from a clinical trial involving 6,000 people over 50 showed that the test helped diagnose 29 who didn’t know they had cancers of the lung, ovary, rectum, neck, breast, and pancreas, among others— for many of these, there are no other screening tests. The test is on the fast track for FDA approval but may be available outside of insurance coverage for now.
5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Another innovative blood test developed this year is called PrecivityAD and can identify whether a patient is likely to have amyloid plaques in the brain, the major marker for Alzheimer’s disease. The rate of Alzheimer’s continues to increase and at present a combination of tests along with clinical evaluation are required to help make the diagnosis. PrecivityAD has been proven as accurate as the previously used tools of a spinal tap or positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which are far more costly and complex. PrecivityAD can be used for people experiencing memory or thinking issues to help identify those with amyloid plaques and risk of Alzheimer’s all from a single blood test. While a positive test can help with hopefully early treatments, a negative test also be helpful in redirecting the search for other diagnosis. If Alzheimer’s disease or the amyloid plaques are detected there are comprehensive treatment plans including peptides that may help.
A helpful virus for gene therapy
Gene therapies in 2021 have led to the development of a virus used to switch off the gene that causes red blood cells to “sickle”. This is the mechanism for sickle cell disease. A study from Boston Children’s hospital followed six patients for a median of 18 months and found that the treatment completely halted the disease’s more severe symptoms.
A new way to repair a torn ACL
Knee injuries are common and 100,000 to 200,000 anterior cruciate ligament or ACL tears occur each year in the United States. The traditional method of repair is removing the ruptured ACL, harvesting a graft from the shin or elsewhere, sewing that tissue into the knee, and hoping both surgical sites heal well. In December 2020, the FDA approved a simpler, more natural method: the Bridge-Enhanced ACL Restoration (BEAR). The approach involves placing a protein-based sponge, prepared with some of the patient’s own blood, between the torn ACL ends. The blood promotes the connection of the two ACL pieces to the sponge and, ultimately, to each other. The Bovine derived collagen device gets absorbed by the body over a few months by which time a new healthy ligament has grown in its place. The approach has been tested on more than 100 patients. In a May 2020 study, patients and physicians reported that BEAR performed as well as the standard repair — and without the graft surgery that can cause ongoing pain or weakness at the donor site. Regenerative medicine options such as plasma-rich platelets, exosomes, stem cells, and peptides can all enhance the healing process and may help with other knee or other musculoskeletal injuries.
Breakthrough in medical treatment of Obesity
Besides being a major risk factor for COVID complications 78 million Americans with obesity or being overweight also are at risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, among others. There has not been a new obesity medication since 2014 but in June the FDA approved Semaglutide or Wegovy. It has been shown to reduce weight by 1 ½ to 2 times more than the current medications. In one study those on semaglutide lost about 15% of body weight vs 2.4% on those not taking the medication. This medication has to be used selectively and is required to maintain the weight loss unless other measures like an AFH obesity medicine program are instituted. It is, however, the most effective option using pharmacology for those who have failed lifestyle changes and do not want surgery, want to lose some weight and bridge over to other peptides.
So despite the news and concerns about the pandemic, our progress in other areas of health continue to progress. Continued research and innovations propel us forward with medical advances to treat disease, improve our quality of life, and help us live longer. If you have any questions on how AFH programs in building up a resilient immune system, cognitive health programs to prevent or reverse dementia, regenerative medicine therapies including peptides, or weight optimization contact us at [email protected], find us on the web at www.allfunctionalhealth.com, or call (925) 736-9828. Be thankful, Take Care, and stay healthy.