A team of scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is working with treatments that could help patients medically and financially.
“We expect to have a wonderful year of new discoveries,” said Dr. Stephen M. Prescott, OMRF president.
Studies during the last couple of decades on rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis have paid off, he said.
“We are known for developing treatments for these illnesses and we are proud of our advances,” Prescott said.
Another project is taking the blood or skin cells from a diabetic patient and converting them to cells that can treat diabetes, he said.
“That is going to make big strides this year,” Prescott said.
That's the good news for patients suffering from these diseases, but the bad news is the treatments are very expensive, he said. Some of the new treatments can cost several thousand dollars each year. Prescott said he is optimistic the cost will be lowered.
The foundation also is working to find a less expensive treatment that will do the same thing. One way is to create a pill that will mimic what an antibody does, he said.
Some of the trends for this year will be relying on the past. Running, one of those previous trends, is now a new game, he said.
“Exercise used to be seen as a young person's game, but no more,” Prescott said.
“With baby boomers now pushing what used to be retirement age, expect to see the ranks of senior athletes continue to swell.”
The number of runners over the age of 60 is expected to increase this year, he said. Also, runners who suffer from foot and leg injuries, will switch from “minimalist” footwear back to traditional running shoes, Prescott said.
Other trends include leaving gluten out of diets but bringing protein back in.
Gluten, a protein found in wheat, breads and cereals, is fast becoming a forbidden staple for many people. The old diet craze of high-protein, low-carb will also make its way back on the table, Prescott said.
Another trend this year is heath and fitness apps. There are more than 10,000 health and fitness apps for the iPhone, and that number is expected to grow in 2012, he said.