Health

Scripps News Special Report: The Medical Breakthroughs of 2023

Scripps News looks back at the significant medical advances of 2023, including new treatments for RSV and the rapid spread of affordable AI tools.

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2023 was a big year for medical advancements, from the patient's hospital room to the laboratories where new treatments are engineered. 

One of the year's big firsts was Alzheimer's breakthrough drug, Lecanemab, or Leqembi. The FDA granted accelerated approval in January, fully approving it this summer.

"What I understand is, I think, it would just slow the progression. And that's really all I want. I just want time," said Pam Montana, an early Alzheimer's patient.

In medicine, you have treatment and you have prevention. And when it comes to RSV, this year, 2023, gave that prevention a big boost—pun intended.

In 2023, science gave us three new shots: one for seniors, one for pregnant women, and one for babies.

At urging of White House, more RSV vaccines being made available
At urging of White House, more RSV vaccines being made available

At urging of White House, more RSV vaccines being made available

In October, the CDC declared a shortage of RSV vaccines intended for infants, forcing providers to ration available doses.

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The new FDA-approved monoclonal antibody drug Beyfortus, or nirsevimab, is in such high demand and so hard to come by right now that the CDC has actually changed who they're recommending get it first.

They're guiding doctors to prioritize kids six months and younger and kids with health conditions that put them at risk of severe sickness.

And in 2023, AI could help doctors diagnose lung cancer in patients before they even get the disease. The team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology named their new AI program Sybil.

The CDC recommends adults at risk for lung cancer get CT screens each year. But even with regular screening, radiologists can't spot everything. Sybil can see what humans can't.

We cannot talk about this year in health without talking about Ozempic, Wegovy, Monjaro, and now Zepbound. All of these weight-loss drugs that are so popular, the FDA just to prove that the last one is up, were found in November.

These once-weekly injections have active ingredients that mimic gut hormones and trick the body's receptors into thinking we're full. Studies have found they can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, as well as curb alcohol cravings.

With the popularity of these drugs, they have been incredibly hard to come by.