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Vital Signs

Top 10 health innovations of 2009

By Anouk Lorie for CNN
  • From the swine flu vaccine to electric eyes, 2009 has seen breakthrough innovations
  • Some are still in development, but many may have been perceived as impossible a year ago
  • CNN rounds up the most impressive health innovations of 2009
  • Swine Flu

London, England (CNN) -- No one doubts that the most high-profile health crisis of 2009 was the unexpected outbreak of H1N1 -- the swine flu virus that has claimed almost 10,000 lives, according to the World Health Organization.

The worldwide pandemic was on the front page of every major news outlet for months on end as people struggled to understand the impact of the first such flu outbreak in over 40 years.

Equally, the vaccine for swine flu, which came out a record five months after the first reported cases of the virulent virus in Mexico, has arguably been 2009's most far-reaching health breakthrough.

But this year has also seen other important health innovations, all of which we might have thought were impossible, or many more years away, a mere 12 months ago.

Some, such as the "Electric Eye," a microchip invented by university researchers that will help blind people regain partial eyesight, are still in the development stage.

Others, such as the $20 knee joint developed by a group of students at Stanford University, are in the early stages of production.

But all of them are products that could have very real and important benefits for the health of patients around the world.

Teo Kermeliotis contributed to this report