4. The Unprecedented Reduction of LDL Cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein (“LDL”) cholesterol is known as
bad cholesterol, bringing about fatty deposits that can clog
arteries. With certain new drug combinations, LDL levels
are reduced by 75%. While this stat is remarkable, many pa-
tients and doctors wonder how low is too low? A number of
trials have been in progress recently testing this theory. So far, the floor has yet to be found. New studies reported
a 20 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction or stroke for patients who took
statins combined with a new class of cholesterol-lowering drugs (PCSK9 inhibitors) to reach ultra-low LDL levels.
5. The Emergence of Distance Health
Extending the healthcare environment to the patient’s
home has been a goal for decades. Removing geographic
barriers to care can result in timelier, more efficient, op-
timal outcomes as well as significant cost savings. Due to
an increase in connectivity through mobile technology
and consumer demand, hospitals are getting ready for widespread adoption in 2018. These technologies are also
expanding beyond the simple two-way video platform. More patients are now equipped with attachable devices
that record and report medical information to doctors to monitor their condition. Over 19 million patients are
projected to use these remote monitoring devices in 2018.
6. Next Generation Vaccine Platforms
Developing just one vaccine is estimated to cost $200 million and take at least 10 years. The toughest challenges,
however, often lie in timing and delivery. With the recent
Ebola and Zika outbreaks, it was clear that the process
needs to be expedited.
In 2018, innovators will be upgrading the entire vaccine infrastructure to support the rapid development of new
vaccines, as well as breaking ground on novel mechanisms to deliver new and existing vaccines to vast populations. For example, innovators are perfecting the use of freeze drying vaccines which can allow shipment to
more remote locations. Companies are finding faster ways to develop flu vaccines using tobacco plants, insects
and nanoparticles. At the point-of-care, innovators are thinking outside the syringe. Oral, edible and mucosally
delivered vaccines, intranasal vaccines, and vaccine chips are all under development. In 2018, a Band-Aid-sized
patch for the flu vaccine is expected to be on the market. These new ways of developing, shipping, storing and
vaccinating are being swiftly connected to stave off current and future diseases and epidemics.