Medical science breakthroughs of 2022: ALS, diabetes, COVID

When COVID-19 arrived in the United States, it was all hands on deck. The country’s brightest scientific minds dropped whatever they were doing to join the effort against SARS-CoV-2, developing novel vaccines and treatments in record time.

In 2022, researchers had time to resume projects they were forced to put on hold, and the USA TODAY health team has spent the year reporting on novel procedures, medical discoveries, and advances in disease prevention and treatment.

Some highlights: Scientists completed the map of our DNA. The FDA approved the first new ALS drug in five years. And we reached major milestones in organ transplantation.

Below, read about some of the biggest medical breakthroughs of 2022, plus a preview of what’s in store for 2023. 

CLIMATE WINS:Scientists achieve major advance in fusion energy  

First pig-to-human heart transplant

In January, David Bennett Sr., 57, became the first patient to have a heart transplant using a pig heart. In the nine-hour operation, doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center replaced his heart with one from a 240-pound pig that had been gene-edited and bred specifically for this purpose.

The procedure was initially considered a success, but Bennett died two months later. Doctors said his death may have been partially the result of a virus he contracted from the pig heart, called pig cytomegalovirus, or CMV.