January Healthcare News Roundup
<p>This month, we have a great start in our monthly healthcare news roundup. In this regular section, we showcase the latest information about treatments, devices, and technologies in the medical field.</p> <p>The first article of 2023 will focus on new medicines for heart and liver disease, a new drug delivery system that can make us leave injections behind, and two new medical devices. We will also give you insights about upcoming clinical trials you may want to keep an eye on.</p> <h2>Dietary Supplement Reverses Signs of Heart Disease</h2> <p>Coronary artery disease is a condition that involves the narrowing or even closing of the arteries surrounding the heart and is a major cause of death worldwide. Some therapeutic options are available, such as statins to lower blood cholesterol levels and drug-eluting stents, which are effective in many patients to help keep coronary arteries open and the blood flowing through them.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, some patients are resistant to these treatments and have a high risk of death. These patients have a different type of coronary artery disease, called triglyceride deposit cardiomyovasculopathy (TGCV), in which the coronary arteries are occluded by triglyceride deposits rather than cholesterol ones. This type of heart disease is especially prevalent in patients with diabetes mellitus and those who have undergone hemodialysis. Despite being able to identify patients with this disease, researchers have not been able to develop an effective treatment until now.</p> <p>In a new study published by the European Heart Journal, researchers from Osaka University showed that a dietary supplement called tricaprin could dramatically <a href="https://scienmag.com/a-dietary-supplement-leads-to-remarkable-regression-in-atherosclerotic-lesions/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">reverse the signs of artery narrowing</a> in patients with TGCV. In their study, they presented the cases of two patients who had refractory chest pain and diabetes. The first patient had been unsuccessfully treated with many different drugs, while the second received stent implantation and drug-coated balloon angioplasty, also seeing minimal results. Following a diagnosis of TGCV, both started therapy with tricaprin-rich products. The first patient was declared angina-free after six years of treatment, while the second showed a widening of coronary vessels just three months after treatment.</p> <p>Despite the extremely small sample, these findings are encouraging for patients with treatment-resistant TGCV, paving the way for establishing new therapies for coronary artery disease.</p> <h2>New Drug Delivery Method Could Replace Injections With Pills</h2> <p>For many patients with chronic diseases, their treatments involve daily injections. Those with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or Crohn&#8217;s disease are familiar with the disruption and reduced quality of life caused by medications that can only be administered through an injection. Many of these patients will sometimes skip a dose of their necessary medications due to fear of needles, injection-related infections, and pain.</p> <p>To develop new drug strategies that combine efficacy and fewer side effects, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and other institutions <a href="https://health-reporter.news/a-promising-drug-delivery-method-could-replace-injections-with-pills/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">bioengineered probiotic bacteria</a> to produce and release a medicinal compound into the intestine. This approach could mean that patients could replace their injections with a probiotic pill.</p> <p>The researchers chose Lactobacillus reuteri as a probiotic because these bacteria are indigenous to human and animal guts but are regularly renewed and do not linger for a long time. L<em>. </em>reuteri has been used in the food industry for a long time, being recognized as safe even in vulnerable populations such as infants and immunosuppressed patients. As for the compound to be produced and released by the bacteria, the researchers picked a short peptide derived from sea anemone toxin. This compound has shown to be effective and safe in reducing disease severity in rat models of rheumatoid arthritis and patients with plaque psoriasis, but so far required administration via injection.</p> <p>In this study, the researchers used an animal model of rheumatoid arthritis, showing that the secreted peptide could be found in the animal’s bloodstream after feeding them with the bioengineered probiotic.&nbsp;</p> <p>Although more research is needed before this treatment can be implemented in clinical practice, the authors say these findings provide an alternative delivery strategy for peptide-based drugs. The techniques and principles applied in this study could also be used in a broader range of drugs, making life easier for many patients with chronic diseases.</p> <h2>Scalp Cooling Device Helps Patients Keep Their Hair During Cancer Treatments</h2> <p>Hair loss is one of the most traumatic experiences for patients undergoing cancer treatments, especially for women. It is not about vanity, but rather identity, with many patients referring to feeling shocked and less confident when imagining losing all their hair.&nbsp;</p> <p>Scalp cooling is an effective way for cancer patients to avoid hair loss during chemotherapy because the cold constricts blood vessels, which prevents cancer chemicals from reaching hair follicles. Although the method works, existing devices are cumbersome and expensive, requiring patients to arrive early and leave later from the clinic where they have their treatments.</p> <p>After going through an unwieldy and costly experience with her cancer treatment, entrepreneur and cancer survivor Kate Dilligan decided that there should be <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2022/12/28/meet-the-entrepreneur-helping-women-undergoing-chemo-keep-their-hair/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">a better way to use scalp cooling</a>. Using her savings and tapping into her network, Dilligan found a way to create Amma, a truly portable head-cooling device. It has a headpiece that is flexible and secure to stay on any person’s head and a cooling unit that can stay connected to the cap and remain at near-freezing temperatures even after it is unplugged from a power source, meaning it can travel with the patient.&nbsp;</p> <p>This is a big improvement from existing non-portable systems in chemotherapy infusion centers, where patients must wear the cap between 30 minutes to 2 hours in advance and keep it on after their infusion is over, which takes up valuable time and space that could be used to treat other patients. When using the Amma cap, patients can start the cooling treatment at home and take it with them after their chemo session, freeing up the infusion chair and clinic staff to care for another patient.</p> <p>Hair loss is one of the most visible side effects of cancer treatments, but it is not inevitable. With this device, more patients will be able to keep their hair.</p> <h2>Rare Liver Disease Could Be Reversed With a Single Drug</h2> <p>Alagille syndrome is an incurable genetic disorder that affects the liver. It is caused by a mutation that prevents the formation and regeneration of bile ducts and has been considered an incurable disease. About 4,000 infants are born with this condition every year, most requiring a liver transplant to survive. Without it, about 75% will not survive past adolescence.</p> <p>New research done by scientists from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery, an independent biomedical research institute, has given hope to patients and their caregivers. <a href="https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230104/Incurable-liver-disease-could-be-reversed-with-a-single-drug.aspx" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">They found</a> that a drug called NoRA1 activates the Notch pathway -a cell-to-cell signaling system present in nearly all animals, that is reduced in children with Alagille syndrome. By restoring Notch signaling in animals with the same mutation found in Alagille patients, NoRA1 triggered duct cells to regenerate and repopulate in the liver, reversing liver damage and increasing survival.</p> <p>&#8220;The liver is well known for its great capacity to regenerate, but this doesn&#8217;t happen in most children with Alagille syndrome because of compromised Notch signaling,&#8221; says first author Chengjian Zhao. &#8220;Our research suggests that nudging the Notch pathway up with a drug could be enough to restore the liver&#8217;s normal regenerative potential.&#8221;</p> <p>Now, the researchers are testing NoRA1 on mini-livers cultured in the lab, created with stem cells from patients with Alagille syndrome, to see if the drug can induce the same regenerative effects it had in animals. Clinical trials are also on the horizon.</p> <h2>New Smart Ring for Women</h2> <p>Evie is a <a href="https://www.med-technews.com/news/latest-medtech-news/movano-launches-women-s-health-smart-ring-evie/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">smart ring</a> designed specifically for women, developed by Movano Health. If cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, it will be the first consumer wearable that is also a medical device. This means that Evie has to overcome more stringent regulations than those of consumer wearables and ensure that it can be used to collect medical-grade data from patients. Movano has recently completed hypoxia trials to demonstrate accuracy for clinical blood oxygen (also known as SpO2) and heart rate, with the results being used in the clearance request.</p> <p>Just like other wearables, Evie can provide health insights such as respiration rate, skin temperature variability, period and ovulation tracking, menstrual symptom tracking, and activity profile. The difference is that Evie uses medical-grade heart rate and SpO2 data to help identify patterns in a woman’s sleep quality and trends in her menstrual cycle. To help women make sense of their health and medical data, the information is delivered through a mobile app that simplifies data visualization, moving away from complex graphs and charts and turning biometric data into actionable insights.&nbsp;</p> <p>The data collected by the Evie ring will be stored in the cloud and kept secure by default. If a user decides to share data from the ring with a health provider, it will be shared with the same protocols used by medical devices, making it a secure data transfer.</p> <p>“As a medical device, Evie will go beyond the status quo of other wearables on the market, and we believe it has the power to transform women’s lives and overall health.” says Dr. John Mastrototaro, CEO of Movano Health.</p> <h2>Clinical Trials to Watch in 2023</h2> <p>The biopharma industry starts 2023 at a crossroads after much upheaval in 2022. Last year, there were unexpected failures in late-stage clinical trials with disastrous effects on stocks, but also breakthroughs and regulatory approvals for new gene therapies. In 2023, there are a few clinical trials <a href="https://www.biopharmadive.com/news/biotech-10-clinical-trials-watch-2023-first-half/639107/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">worth keeping an eye on</a>, given their potential to influence different areas of medicine.</p> <p>The success of aducanumab and lecanemab has brought a new impetus to research in Alzheimer’s disease, with two noteworthy clinical trials; one by Eli Lilly with a monoclonal antibody called donanemab (NCT04437511) and another by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals with a small interfering RNA molecule (NCT05231785). Donanemab, just like its competitors Biogen and Eisai, works by clearing amyloid plaques in the brain, which is expected to slow cognitive decline. Alnylam’s bet on the small interfering RNA ALN-APP is meant to slow the production of the amyloid precursor protein, or APP, which might stop tangled proteins from building up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.</p> <p>One could say that monoclonal antibodies have the spotlight in 2023. Apart from Alzheimer’s, they are featured in clinical trials for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, and ulcerative colitis. In oncology, an antibody-drug conjugate is a new venture from AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo. The drug, called datopotamab deruxtecan, links a tumor-killing chemical to a targeted antibody and is being tested in the lung, breast, prostate, and other solid cancers.</p> <p>Moderna is also trying to expand the applicability of its mRNA technology with the development of an influenza vaccine. While the company says mRNA vaccines can be quickly adapted to cover the predominant flu strains circulating in any given year, it still has to prove that the mRNA flu shots are at least as effective as traditional vaccines. The answer to that question could arrive as soon as the first quarter of 2023, when results of their phase 3 clinical trial are expected to appear.</p> <h3>Want to stay up to date with the latest healthcare news?</h3> <div class="is-layout-flex wp-block-buttons"> <div class="wp-block-button is-style-fill"><a class="wp-block-button__link has-text-color has-background wp-element-button" href="https://www.trueprofile.io/member/resources/category/healthcare-news" style="color:#f5f5f5;background-color:#00497a" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">View all Healthcare News Roundups</a></div> </div>