Drug safety failures have topped a list of 2007's 'Most Significant Health Stories'.
The health stories have been chosen by the editors of Harvard Medical School's Harvard Health Letter.
The following list is a top 10 roundup of what the experts felt were the most important health stories of 2007:
1) Drug safety failures: Rosiglitazone (Avandia), a drug used by millions of diabetes patients, became the latest medication, which was found to have serious side effects. The side effects were not evident when the FDA approved it. A study has found that the drug might contribute to bone loss.
2) Genome-wide association studies: Genome-wide association study is defined as any study of genetic variation across the entire human genome that is designed to identify genetic associations with observable traits (such as blood pressure or weight), or the presence or absence of a disease or condition. These studies take advantage of unique 'flags' flying in each 'neighbourhood' of the vast genome. This year, such studies have identified genes, which are associated with type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and resistance to HIV infection, etc.
3) Genome sequencing in a jiffy—and cheap: Sequencing genomes, identifying all the chemical base pairs of all genes, is rapidly becoming cheaper. Cheap genome sequencing may soon usher in a new era of personalized medicine, with health advice and medical treatments tailored to each individual's genes.
4) Waking up to a new health habit - Sleep: Evidence showing that good sleep is one of the pillars of good health has reached a critical mass. Poor sleep has been linked to health problems ranging from diabetes to heart disease to obesity.
5) Health is going global: Student programs, global health seminars, overseas residencies, and of course money, millions of dollars committed to global health projects.
6) Cooling off inflammation: New medications are improving the treatment of several inflammatory conditions, including TNF-alpha blockers, drugs that interfere with a protein that contributes to inflammation, have given doctors and patients an important new treatment choice for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
7) Covering the uninsured: With health care costs continuing to increase and employer coverage is down, lawmakers are filling in the gaps. Many programs are being developed to cover children.
8) Tying reimbursement to quality health care: 2007 saw some progress toward rewarding doctors and hospitals for the quality of the care they deliver, not just the quantity.
9) A better mammogram?: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may become a major part of breast screening programs, since two studies this year have found that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are better than other techniques at identifying breast cancers in high-risk women.
10) Peeking into the brain for disease clues: Advances in imaging technology, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), are allowing researchers to look more closely at brain activity. This might aid the understanding of diseases like Alzheimer's and lead to earlier detection.