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ThisisEngineering RAEng / Unsplash

Discover the amazing innovations, experts and practices behind Zagreb’s booming, hi-tech medical scene

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Written by
Lara Rasin
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Zagreb's leading health institutions employ renowned medical experts and utilize revolutionary technology. The city's medical scene can go head-to-head with the world's best - and it has a string of impressive innovations (many of which have been internationally awarded) to prove it. Not to mention the city's medical professionals and their exemplary skills, which they apply to some of the best practices and technologies on the market.

Discover examples of the leading-edge novelties, spearheaded by world-class professionals, on Zagreb's health sector with our list of a few (of many!) exciting innovations, experts, and practices.

Magdalena Clinic's telemedicine approach

Magdalena Clinics Telemedicine Center provides patients with heart health security through the use of cutting-edge telemedicine. How does telemedicine work?

Patients receive a a palm-sized, portable electrocardiogram (ECG) device. This device can send the patient's ECG to doctors at the clinic within seconds. Based on the findings received, an expert response is promptly sent back with a specific recommendation for action. 

Telemedicine offers superior cardiac care from the comfort of the home, quick reactions in case of emergencies, 24/7 support, and, ultimately, peace of mind for patients.

Croatia's status as world leader in organ transplants

All of Croatia (though Zagreb has the biggest contribution) is considered the world's champion in organ transplants. So much so, in fact, that the "Croatian model" is often cited as best practice example across medical communities worldwide.

Let's take a look at the numbers.

Transplant medicine began in Croatia in the 1960s.

Croatia is the top country for organ donations in the world with around 40 organ donors per million inhabitants.

Kidney transplants can happen in around 30 days in Croatia, heart transplants in a few months, and liver transplants in just over a year. This is a far cry from the previous averages of over five years - which are still prevalent in other countries worldwide.

Radiochirurgia Clinic's advanced radiosurgery

Radiochirurgia uses Varian Edge radiotherapy and radiosurgery to treat cancer.

Varian Edge is the newest linear accelerator on the market. The technology is used for high precision radiosurgery treatments - and it's a non-surgical alternative to conventional surgical methods.

The medical experts at Radiochirurgia aptly handle the device's high intensity beams, which have submillimetre accuracy. This has made accessible parts of the body which traditional surgery could rarely access. 

PLIVA's pharmaceutical breakthroughs

Pharmaceutical company Pliva, based in Zagreb, is consistently one of the world's most innovative. Here's why.

In its almost 100-year history, PLIVA's experts, researchers and scientists have produced hundreds of quality medical treatments and made outstanding contributions to patient health and the development of technology and science, in general.

PLIVA's discovery of azithromycin in 1980 was the biggest event in the history of the Croatian pharmaceutical industry. With that, PLIVA became one of the few pharmaceutical companies to have its own, original drug, and Croatia one of only 9 countries to have its own antibiotic.

Today, azithromycin is on the World Health Institution's List of Essential Medicines.

PLIVA, now a member of Teva Group, is the largest pharmaceutical company in Croatia and continues to be a world leader in its field.

Eye Clinic Svjetlost's groundbreaking ophthalmology treatments

Located in central Zagreb, Eye Clinic Svjetlost was the first private eye clinic in the region. It remains the regional leader in eye diagnosis, treatment, and surgery.

Company Carl Zeiss, noted for its microscope and optical aid production, exclusively presented Svjetlost with the Artevo 800 - the world's first digital microscope for eye surgery - for trial use.

The microscope is used at the clinic in Zagreb, where it gives surgeons 3D imaging and real-time information about the eye's interior structures.

The Institute for Nuclear Technology's neurosurgical robot NERO

The development of trailblazing neurosurgical robot NERO is currently underway in Zagreb.

Leading the project is the Institute for Nuclear Technology (INETEC), along with the University of Zagreb's Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture and the Clinical Hospital Center Dubrava.

With NERO, software and hardware combine to facilitate high-precision neuronavigation (which aids neurosurgeons operating inside a vertebral column or skull, and reduces surgery times).

Tasks for NERO include the following: assessing ventricular drainage, identifying where epileptic seizures originate, implanting electrodes in the brain to treat disorders, and taking biopsies of tumours. The bot will also be used in cases of dystonia, Parkinson's disease, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

St. Catherine Hospital’s work on pharmacogenomics

St. Catherine's Hospital takes a personalized approach to medicine, with a special focus on pharmacogenomics.

This is an extremely important, emerging field which identifies how a person's genes can affect their response to certain medications. In other words, it allows for personalised and more effective healthcare. 

What methods are used?

Through the RightMed test (developed in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic), St. Catherine's conducts a DNA analysis to determine how individuals absorb and metabolize certain medications. The test includes over 100 medications that are used to treat a number of medical conditions. RightMed helps doctors prescribe medication accurately and individually, and reduces the occurrence of side effects and unwanted interactions between individual drugs.

In January of 2020, leading international scientific publication Pharmacogenomics published the article "Pharmacogenomics at the center of precision medicine: challenges and perspective in an era of Big Data", which St. Catherine's Hospital participated in.

Genos biotech company's biological age test

Croatian biotech company Genos presented its first global product in London: the GlycanAge biological age test. This is the first-ever commercial product that determines biological age (which doesn't always match up with actual age!) through DNA methylation analyses and analyzing how glycans change over time.

The founder and owner of Genos is Dr. Gordan Lauc, an entrepreneur, full-time professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry in Zagreb and honorary professor at Kings College in London and the University of Edinburgh. 

Dr. Lauc founded Genos as an academic startup in 2007, and has since developed a range of other DNA tests as well, such as a paternity test, lactose intolerance test, and chromosome disorder test. Genos continues to be the global leader in glycan analysis, and it plans to launch a diabetes test in the future, as well.

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