The 2010s

Meningitis B accounts for about 90% of meningococcal infections in the UK, each year there are between 500 and 1700 cases. The introduction of the Meningitis B vaccination programme has seen cases in infants aged less than one drop by 42%.

A brain cooling treatment trialled by Denis Azzopardi and David Edwards at Imperial College London shows that by cooling the body by three degrees, brain damage can be prevented in newborns starved of oxygen during birth. Today, NICE guidance recommends cooling newborns in this situation.

New ways to treat viral infections (e.g. common cold) are being researched after a team from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology found that antibodies can attack viruses from inside our cells. They trigger a response led by protein TRIM21 that helps the cell to eject the virus.

In 2013 researchers discovered that a single tumour can be made up of many separate cancers requiring different treatments. Their discovery will help to personalise treatment for patients with cancer.

 

Patients who have had a serious heart attack have angioplasty to clear their arteries. HEAT PPCI, the largest trial of its kind in cardiovascular medicine, found Heparin was a better (and 400x cheaper) anticoagulant for these patients.

NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre researchers found giving children with peanut allergies small doses of peanut flour was effective at reducing allergic reactions. The development of an oral treatment could transform the lives of many with peanut allergies.

In 2014 scientists in Cambridge used XNAs, synthetic molecules that can store genetic information, to develop the world's first artificial enzymes, XNAzymes. These synthetic catalysts could provide a potential starting point for an entirely new generation of drugs and diagnostics.

 

The artificial pancreas developed by Cambridge researchers uses smartphone technology to modify insulin dose for people with type 1 diabetes. Given that diabetes consumes 10% of the NHS budget, the potential benefits of the artificial pancreas are huge.

In 2017 the first new drug in 20 years for primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) - thought to affect 20,000 people in the UK - was approved by NICE. Prior to this the 30% of patients who didn't respond to any treatment would be left with a liver transplant as their only option.