Innovation is a buzzword that has been used a lot, since the early 1990s. It has been overused, appearing in consumer product descriptions like food, soap and electronics. The ubiquitous use of this word waters down the true meaning of innovation.
Essentially, it refers to ideas and new ways of thinking that may lead to new inventions. Innovation is not success. Innovation is an ingredient to success. Of course, we recognize that having innovation alone is not enough, you also need courage, perseverance, curiosity and determination.
In this issue, we tap into some breakthrough research to give us an understanding of what innovation can be. Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) is a form of severe skin damage which causes blisters, so severe that it is painful to do daily activities. Children with this skin condition often do not live past adolescence. There is no cure for this condition, except managing wound care. Until recently, there is fresh hope in the form of a drug. The drug is commercially available as a medication for osteoarthritis, which has one of the inflammatory markers seen in EB. Tapping on this, and the fact that it is already a market approved medication, researchers came up with an ointment for skin application. It is still in pilot studies and awaiting approval, but it shows us with a bit of innovation and using what’s already existing, we can improve the lives of some people.
How do you share knowledge and develop skills in communities that need it the most? How do you ensure medical staff have the necessary training to operate on patients? That is where innovation comes in, in the form of a flying eye hospital. It is a mobile hospital inside a MD-10 aircraft, which has been converted into a teaching eye hospital, classrooms, laser rooms, operating rooms and are all fully accredited. If 35 years ago, the aviation and medical industries did not come together to commit to fighting avoidable blindness, none of this would have happen. We see innovation as thinking of problems and unmet needs, and turning them into inventions, in this case, a mobile hospital. In Albert Einstein words, “We cannot solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
2017 is coming to an end, and this is our last issue for the year. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the hardworking team behind APBN, the editorial and advisory board, and our readers (you) for all your support this year.
As we race towards the end of 2017, I wish everybody a safe and happy holiday season. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!