Look Who’s Talking: What big ‘breakthroughs’ do you anticipate this year?
Look Who’s Talking features different voices across the Brigham answering the same question once a month. As the year begins, we asked our experts what exciting scientific ‘breakthroughs’ or advancements they are anticipating in 2023. Feel free to submit a comment at the bottom of the page to join in on the conversation.
“In 2023 we will see continued advances in the area of Gene and Cell Therapy. I anticipate breakthroughs in the use of CAR-T cells for the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as Pemphigous, CRISPR editing for the treatment of inherited genetic diseases such as hemophilia, and RNA-based therapies for the treatment of cancer.”—Paul Anderson, MD, PhD, interim chief academic officer, Mass General Brigham
“We are driving transformative scientific breakthroughs in every clinical discipline across BWH, changing the way we understand, diagnose and treat diseases and preserve human health. So, as with this year and many years prior, I expect we’ll see a lot of great advances in 2023. To name a couple of specific breakthroughs I’m looking forward to: I expect we will leverage our new understanding of the pathophysiology of long COVID to deliver effective treatment for this widely pervasive condition; I also expect we will see exciting new applications of cellular therapies to treat a range of autoimmune disorders. Both will have broad implications for patients around the world.” –Allison Moriarty, MPH, senior vice president, Research Planning & Operations and Innovation
“2023 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It is likely that we will have one or more disease-modifying treatments targeting amyloid, such as lecanemab, approved by the FDA and covered by insurance for the treatment of patients with early-stage AD. This will bring challenges as well, including the capacity to provide specialized care and treatment for many patients with AD, appropriate selection of patients for treatment, careful monitoring for safety, and likely high costs. However, it will also open the door to combination treatments in research and eventually in the clinic, hopefully helping us turn the corner in the fight against AD.”—Gad Marshall, MD, director of Clinical Trials, Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment, Department of Neurology
“An exciting ‘big breakthrough’ in 2023 will be the development of personalized medicine diagnostic and therapeutic tools, which will be based on the patient’s individual clinical and genetic risk factors. We will see a wider clinical implementation of genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic technologies, which will lead to the development of new therapies tailored to individuals’ unique characteristics. As machine learning and other AI approaches developed to analyze vast amounts of data become more widely adopted in health care, there is potential for significant improvements in patient outcomes, which will revolutionize health care.”—Vesela Kovacheva, MD PhD, attending anesthesiologist, director of Translational and Clinical Research, Division of Obstetric Anesthesia
“In 2023, we will witness new approvals in the gene therapy space specifically for sickle cell disease using CRISPR editing and for wet AMD using AAV vectors. CAR-T therapy will be validated in a variety of disease states beyond liquid tumors. The emergence of novel, highly tropic, re-dosable and more potent vector systems will open new horizons for targeting difficult to treat diseases.” —Roger Hajjar, MD, director of Mass General Brigham Gene and Cell Therapy Institute
“I anticipate that in 2023, multi-omics combined with machine-learning technology will rapidly evolve as a powerful strategy to: (1) delineate causal biologic pathways underlying disease, (2) improve personalized disease prediction and diagnosis, and (3) identify novel therapeutic targets and drug candidates. In my work as a physician-scientist in maternal-fetal medicine, I hope to see these strategies applied to understand adverse pregnancy outcomes, advance therapeutic development in pregnancy, and decrease maternal morbidity particularly in disproportionately affected populations.” —Kathryn Gray, MD, PhD, Obstetrician, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
“A new generation of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are making their way from the lab to daily practice. While AI technologies have been successfully used in applications such as search engines (Google), the initial experience in clinical applications has been rather disappointing. This is due to the fact that AI requires a significant amount of annotated training data. But new AI algorithms are designed to address the challenge of relatively small training data sets. I expect such algorithms to have a significant impact in 2023.” —Ron Kikinis, MD, director, Surgical Planning Laboratory, Department of Radiology