2020 has been challenging, and COVID-19 has dominated our headlines for much of the year. But away from the pandemic, the world of health and medicine has continued to deliver fresh research, new treatments for old diseases, and surprising developments that will affect our health next year.

To capture this, and provide relief to our readers from the wall-to-wall COVID-19 coverage, Medical News Today launched a regular feature called The Recovery Room — a weekly roundup of stories that are in no way related to COVID-19.

This week’s Recovery Room features 10 of the most popular, interesting, and significant news articles we published in 2020. We hope you enjoy our selection, and we look forward to bringing you the latest medical news and evidence-backed information throughout 2021.

Until then, the MNT team would like to wish you a happy holiday and a healthy New Year!

1. Honeybee venom kills aggressive breast cancer cells

In September, we reported on what Prof. Peter Klinken, the chief scientist of Western Australia, called “another wonderful example of where compounds in nature can be used to treat human diseases.”

Scientists have found that the active component of honeybee venom rapidly kills two types of difficult-to-treat breast cancer cells. How it does this may also make it useful in combination with existing chemotherapy drugs.

2. 2nd person cured of HIV thanks to stem cell transplant

In March of this year, MNT reported on only the second case of a person being cured of HIV following a stem cell transplant.

The first case was in 2007, when a person with HIV who later developed acute myeloid leukemia received treatment using a transplant of stem cells from a donor who was practically immune to HIV. This stem cell transplant not only treated the patient’s leukemia, but it also cured their HIV infection.

In the latest case, the person received a transplant with stem cells that did not express the CCR5 gene, which produces a protein that helps the virus enter cells. Following the transplant, doctors later confirmed that the patient’s HIV viral load remained undetectable in blood samples.

Learn more here.

3. Could AI replace the finger prick blood sugar test?

2020 was marked by many developments in the world of health technology, with artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and even smartphones finding new medical applications.

In January, MNT covered a study that used AI to detect changes in blood sugar by analyzing the heartbeat. The authors of the study hoped that this method could replace finger prick tests and also allow real-time monitoring of blood sugar levels. This could, for example, drastically shorten the amount of time that a person with diabetes experiences hypoglycemia.

Learn more here.