Hockey Fan Spots Cancerous Mole at Game and Delivers a Lifesaving Note

Nadia Popovici wrote a message on her phone, with “mole,” “cancer” and “doctor” in bright-red type to get the attention of Brian Hamilton, an assistant equipment manager for the Vancouver Canucks.

#brian-hamilton, #cancer, #hockey-ice, #melanomas, #nadia-popovici, #national-hockey-league, #neck, #seattle-wash, #seattle-kraken, #vancouver-canucks

A $1-Billion Boost to the NCI Will Help Us Beat Cancer

The organization’s underfunding means critical research is not being done

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#cancer, #health

For mammals, eating other animals can increase cancer risk

These rodents seemingly manage to avoid developing cancer.

Enlarge / These rodents seemingly manage to avoid developing cancer. (credit: Jason Hollinger / Wikimedia Commons)

Cancer is a sad fact of life, as nearly 40 percent of people are diagnosed with it at some point in their lives. But humans aren’t alone in this. Many different species can also develop the disease—some more often than others. By studying these species and their habits and natural defenses (or lack thereof), we can learn new ways to combat the disease.

New research that involves a comprehensive survey of cancer shows that many mammals can indeed get cancer. To gain insight into this, the team looked at records for 110,148 animals from 191 species that died in zoos. The data came from Species360, an international non-profit that collects and unifies this kind of data from zoos across the world, according to Orsolya Vincze, a research fellow at the Centre for Ecological Research in Hungary and one of the paper’s authors.

Using the data gathered by the organization, the research team could “collect information on what the animals died of,” she told Ars.

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#cancer, #ecology, #evolution, #mammals, #petos-paradox, #science

When Do We Know Our Life’s Work Is Done?

It’s a time to reflect — and to remember we’re loved. 

#cancer, #christmas, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #depression-mental, #holidays-and-special-occasions, #transgender-and-transsexuals

In Chicago, a New Approach to Gay and Bisexual Men With Prostate Cancer

A new clinic focuses on patients left grappling with the aftermath of treatment in ways that are rarely appreciated by doctors.

#acquired-immune-deficiency-syndrome, #cancer, #chicago-ill, #homosexuality-and-bisexuality, #northwestern-memorial-hospital-chicago-ill, #prostate-cancer, #prostate-gland, #sex, #united-states

What Is Cardiac Angiosarcoma?

Virgil Abloh, the celebrated fashion designer, died at 41 after being diagnosed with the rare cancer. Here’s what we know about it.

#abloh-virgil, #cancer, #tumors

Stamping Bar Codes on Cells to Solve Medical Mysteries

By tracking every cell in an organism, scientists are working out why certain cancer treatments fail, which could lead to improved medicine.

#bar-codes, #bone-cancer, #bone-marrow, #cancer, #leukemia, #research, #stem-cells, #transplants

The Colon Cancer Conundrum

Colorectal cancer rates in younger adults are climbing. The race is on to figure out why

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#cancer, #health, #innovations-in

The COVID Cancer Effect

Oncologists are grappling with predicting—and mitigating—the effects of the pandemic

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#cancer, #health, #innovations-in, #public-health

300 Minutes a Week of Moderate Exercise May Help Ward Off Cancer

More than 46,000 cancers in America each year, or about 3 percent of cases, could be prevented by meeting physical activity guidelines.

#american-cancer-society, #bladder-cancer, #breast-cancer, #cancer, #colon-and-colorectal-cancer, #exercise, #medicinescience-in-sportsexercise-journal, #smoking-and-tobacco, #stomach-cancer

We Must Improve Equity in Cancer Screening

Eliminating disparities in routine examinations will require outreach, availability and cultural consideration

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#cancer, #health, #inequality, #innovations-in

Engineered Bacteria Use Air Bubbles as Acoustically Detonated Tumor TNT

Ultrasound triggered cells home in on tumors and then self destruct to deliver damage or therapeutics from inside.

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#cancer, #health

How Immunocompromised People Without Strong Vaccine Protection Are Coping with COVID

People with diseases or treatments that suppress their immune system cannot count on the same protection most vaccinated people have

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#biology, #cancer, #health, #vaccines

Cancer Nearly Took His Life. But the New York Marathon Awaited.

Almost a year ago to the day, the elite runner Tommy Rivers Puzey learned to sit up in a bed again. On Sunday, he attempted the New York City Marathon.

#cancer, #lymphoma, #marathon-running, #new-york-city-marathon, #tommy-rivers-puzey

Daylight Saving Time Is Ending. Why Not Forever?

Most Americans don’t like this disruptive ritual — but they’re split about which side of the clock-switching system they prefer.

#cancer, #daylight-saving-time, #debatable, #franklin-benjamin, #watches-and-clocks

AI Generates Hypotheses Human Scientists Have Not Thought Of

Machine-learning algorithms can guide humans toward new experiments and theories

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#artificial-intelligence, #cancer, #creativity, #technology

‘Shell Game’: How Chemical Companies Avoid Paying for Pollution

DuPont factories pumped dangerous substances into the environment. The company and its offspring have gone to great lengths to dodge responsibility.

#3m-company, #air-pollution, #cancer, #cape-fear-river-north-carolina, #chemicals, #chemours-company, #conflicts-of-interest, #dupont-co, #environmental-protection-agency, #factories-and-manufacturing, #fayetteville-nc, #fayetteville-works, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #kullman-ellen-j, #mergers-acquisitions-and-divestitures, #peltz-nelson, #pfas-per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances, #regan-michael-s-1976, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #water-pollution

What Scientists Know About the Risk of Breakthrough Covid Deaths

Deaths among people who have been fully vaccinated remain rare, but older adults and those with compromised immune systems are at much higher risk.

#antibodies, #cancer, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #immune-system, #multiple-myeloma, #multiple-myeloma-research-foundation, #powell-colin-l, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

For Some Breast Cancer Survivors, October Is the Cruelest Month

Pink ribbons can be a tough reminder for many breast cancer survivors. Here’s how to make it easier.

#advertising-and-marketing, #breast-cancer, #cancer, #content-type-service, #psychology-and-psychologists

Stanley Tucci’s Passion Was Acting. Now, It’s Food.

The actor’s new memoir “Taste” explains how a bout with cancer took his passion for ragù and risotto, but also Cuban-Chinese stews and minke whale, to new heights.

#books-and-literature, #cancer, #celebrities, #content-type-personal-profile, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #food, #italian-food-cuisine, #italy, #movies, #taste, #taste-my-life-through-food-book, #tucci-stanley, #writing-and-writers

The next healthcare revolution will have AI at its center

The global pandemic has heightened our understanding and sense of importance of our own health and the fragility of healthcare systems around the world. We’ve all come to realize how archaic many of our health processes are, and that, if we really want to, we can move at lightning speed. This is already leading to a massive acceleration in both the investment and application of artificial intelligence in the health and medical ecosystems.

Modern medicine in the 20th century benefited from unprec­edented scientific breakthroughs, resulting in improvements in every as­pect of healthcare. As a result, human life expectancy increased from 31 years in 1900 to 72 years in 2017. Today, I believe we are on the cusp of another healthcare revolution — one driven by artificial intelligence (AI). Advances in AI will usher in the era of modern medicine in truth.

Over the coming decades, we can expect medical diagnosis to evolve from an AI tool that provides analysis of options to an AI assistant that recommends treatments.

Digitization enables powerful AI

The healthcare sector is seeing massive digitization of everything from patient records and radiology data to wearable computing and multiomics. This will redefine healthcare as a data-driven industry, and when that happens, it will leverage the power of AI — its ability to continuously improve with more data.

When there is enough data, AI can do a much more accurate job of diagnosis and treatment than human doctors by absorbing and checking billions of cases and outcomes. AI can take into account everyone’s data to personalize treatment accordingly, or keep up with a massive number of new drugs, treatments and studies. Doing all of this well is beyond human capabilities.

AI-powered diagnosis

I anticipate diagnostic AI will surpass all but the best doctors in the next 20 years. Studies have shown that AI trained on sizable data can outperform physicians in several areas of medical diagnosis regarding brain tumors, eye disease, breast cancer, skin cancer and lung cancer. Further trials are needed, but as these technologies are deployed and more data is gathered, the AI stands to outclass doctors.

We will eventually see diagnostic AI for general practitioners, one disease at a time, to gradually cover all diagnoses. Over time, AI may become capable of acting as your general practitioner or family doctor.

#artificial-intelligence, #biotechnology, #cancer, #column, #drug-discovery, #ec-column, #ec-enterprise-health, #ec-robotics, #health, #healthcare, #medical-imaging, #pharmaceuticals, #precision-medicine, #robotics, #startups

An mRNA Pioneer Discusses How Her Work Led to the COVID Vaccines

Biochemist Katalin Karikó and her colleague Drew Weissman were recently awarded a $3-million Breakthrough Prize for their work

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#cancer, #health, #vaccines

Before a ‘Classy Dinosaur’ Wedding Came Leukemia and I.V.F.

Kaitlin Flannery and John Mancini met in Palo Alto, Calif., and moved across the country together, until a shocking diagnosis meant they had to live apart for a while.

#cancer, #in-vitro-fertilization, #marriages, #weddings-and-engagements

The challenge of finding new tools to fight prostate cancer

The challenge of finding new tools to fight prostate cancer

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

In the US, September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. This feature highlights why catching prostate cancer early can be critical, and what researchers are doing to improve the odds of controlling the disease once it’s found.

Prostate cancer is a paradox. It has one of the highest early-stage survival rates of any cancer, yet it’s the second most common cause of cancer death in the US among people with a prostate (behind only lung cancer). Localized prostate cancer, only found in the organ itself, is highly curable. But once it becomes metastatic, spreading beyond the prostate, it is incurable and leads to death.

This makes studying it complicated. How do you understand something that is at once easy and impossible to cure? Researchers tackling the paradox are harnessing technologies like imaging, genetic sequencing, big data, and artificial intelligence to work toward changing outcomes for patients across the spectrum of cancer severity. From understanding what makes the cancer develop in the first place to identifying new drugs and new methods of treatment—each innovation is an opportunity to save lives. Here’s a look at just a few of the countless projects in progress around the world that could one day change the treatment landscape for prostate cancer.

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#biology, #cancer, #cell-lines, #features, #medicine, #prostate-cancer, #research, #science, #stem-cells

Luminate aims to make hair loss from chemotherapy a thing of the past

Hair loss resulting from chemotherapy is one of the most recognizable side effects in all of medicine, and for many is an unwanted public announcement of their condition and treatment. Luminate Medical may have a solution in a medical wearable that prevents the chemical cocktail from tainting hair follicles, preventing the worst of the loss and perhaps relegating this highly visible condition to the past.

When Luminate CEO Aaron Hannon and his co-founder Bárbara Oliveira were asking patients and doctors about areas of cancer treatment that they could perhaps innovate in, “we were just astonished at how much hair loss dominated the conversation,” said Hannon. “So from then on out we’ve just been laser focused on making that something that doesn’t exist any more.”

When a patient is undergoing chemotherapy, the cancer-inhibiting drugs course through their entire body — anywhere the blood goes. This has a variety of side effects, like weakness and nausea, and on a longer time scale hair loss occurs as the substances affect the follicles. Luminate’s solution, developed in partnership with the National University of Ireland Galway, is to prevent the blood from reaching those cells in the first place.

Image of a woman wearing the Luminate headset.

Image Credits: Luminate

The device that effects this is a sort of mechanized compression garment for the head. If that sounds a bit sinister, don’t worry — the pressure comes from air bladders and pads pressing against the scalp, not screws or plates; Hannon says that it isn’t uncomfortable and pressure is carefully monitored.

There’s also no risk of damage from lack of blood flow in those cells. “Compression therapy has been really well studied,” he said. “There are years of literature around how long you can apply these therapies without damaging the cells. There’s a certain amount of mechanical engineering involved in making it both comfortable and effective.”

The patient wears the cap during and after the whole chemo session. By restricting blood flow to the skin of the scalp only, it allows the drugs to flow unimpeded to wherever the tumor or cancer site is while saving the hair follicles from damage.

Tests have been done on animals, which saw hair retention of around 80 percent with no adverse effects — and while full human trials are something that will need some time and approval to set up, initial tests of the headset’s bloodflow-blocking effects on healthy patients showed that it works exactly as expected on people as well.

“We’re really excited about the efficacy of this therapy because it works with lots of hair types,” said Hannon. That’s a real consideration, since a tech that only worked with short hair, straight hair, or some other subset of hairstyles would exclude far too many people.

Luminate's app showing how long is left in therapy for the user.

Image Credits: Luminate / Wild Island Pictures

As for competition, although there are some new treatments that cool the scalp instead of compressing it, Hannon noted that the most money is spent by far on wigs. An average of a thousand dollars per patient who opts for a wig means there’s considerable leeway for a device in that neighborhood.

Although hair loss is considered a medical condition by many insurance companies and other methods of reimbursement, and wigs are often covered, it will take time and lots of evidence to get Luminate’s device approved for those processes. But the team is confident that at around $1,500, the device is within the means of many as long as other costs are being picked up by insurance. People do, after all, spend that much and more not just on wigs but on other hair retention products and methods. If there was a checkbox for “don’t lose hair” on the chemo forms with a $1,500 price tag, a whole lot of people would check it without a second thought.

Cofounders Bárbara Oliveira (left) and Aaron Hannon.

Image Credits: Luminate

Ultimately, however, Luminate wants to be able to offer the device also to those who can’t afford the cost out of pocket, so they are progressing towards FDA approval and a U.S. launch, with Europe and others to come.

 

So far Luminate, just graduating from Y Combinator’s Summer 2021 batch, has been lucky enough to operate on funds provided through grants from the Irish government, which are of course non-dilutive. While more capital will almost certainly be required come time for scaling and international launch, right now the team is focused on getting the device into the hands (and onto the heads) of its first set of patients.

#cancer, #chemotherapy, #funding, #fundings-exits, #gadgets, #hair-loss, #hardware, #health, #luminate, #luminate-medical, #medical, #startups, #y-combinator

One Thing I Don’t Plan to Do Before I Die Is Make a Bucket List

Until my cancer diagnosis, I did not understand that one future comes at the exclusion of all others.

#canadian-football-league, #cancer, #death-and-dying, #families-and-family-life, #pilgrimages, #restoration-and-renovation, #travel-and-vacations

FDA expected to authorize 3rd COVID vaccine dose for immunocompromised

Extreme close-up photograph of gloved hand holding frost-covered glass vial.

Enlarge / A pharmacist holding a vial of the undiluted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19. (credit: Getty | JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce Thursday (or soon after) that it is authorizing a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for some people with compromised immune systems, according to people familiar with the FDA’s plans.

The plans were first reported by NBC News and confirmed by CNN and Politico.

The FDA is expected to give a green light for a third dose of both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccines. The authorization for the third shots would come by way of updates to the vaccines’ emergency use authorizations.

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#biontech, #cancer, #cdc, #covid-19, #fda, #hiv, #immunocompromised, #moderna, #organ-transplant, #pfizer, #science, #vaccine

New Therapy for Aggressive Prostate Cancer Improves Survival

The experimental treatment relies on radioactive molecules that seek out tumor cells, a strategy that may be useful against other cancers.

#cancer, #chemotherapy, #clinical-trials, #deaths-fatalities, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #new-england-journal-of-medicine, #novartis-ag, #prostate-cancer, #radiation, #tumors, #your-feed-science

Her Sister Died of a Brain Tumor. Now She Was Having Similar Symptoms.

Humanity has planted flags on the moon, yet a moonshot for brain cancer has yet to be realized.

#brain-cancer, #cancer, #doctors, #surgery-and-surgeons, #tumors

How Did a Gay Scientist of Jewish Descent Thrive Under the Nazis?

In “Ravenous,” Sam Apple tells the story of a researcher who was able to carry out his groundbreaking work on cancer cells even in the middle of World War II.

#apple-sam, #books-and-literature, #cancer, #content-type-personal-profile, #germany, #holocaust-and-the-nazi-era, #homosexuality-and-bisexuality, #jews-and-judaism, #ravenous-otto-warburg-the-nazis-and-the-search-for-the-cancer-diet-connection-book, #research, #warburg-otto

His Comfort Is Not My Responsibility

A young woman with a prosthetic leg hopes to make the world a more empathetic place. If only she didn’t have to do it on first dates.

#amputation, #cancer, #dating-and-relationships, #love-emotion

Biden proposes ARPA-H, a health research agency to ‘end cancer’ modeled after DARPA

In a joint address to Congress last night, President Biden updated the nation on vaccination efforts and outlined his administration’s ambitious goals.

Biden’s first 100 days have been characterized by sweeping legislative packages that could lift millions of Americans out of poverty and slow the clock on the climate crisis, but during his first joint address to Congress, the president highlighted another smaller plan that’s no less ambitious: to “end cancer as we know it.”

“I can think of no more worthy investment,” Biden said Wednesday night. “I know of nothing that is more bipartisan…. It’s within our power to do it.”

The comments weren’t out of the blue. Earlier this month, the White House released a budget request for $6.5 billion to launch a new government agency for breakthrough health research. The proposed health agency would be called ARPA-H and would live within the NIH. The initial focus would be on cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s but the agency would also pursue other “transformational innovation” that could remake health research.

The $6.5 billion investment is a piece of the full $51 billion NIH budget. But some critics believe that ARPA-H should sit under the Department of Health and Human Services rather than being nested under NIH. 

ARPA-H would be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which develops moonshot-like tech for defense applications. DARPA’s goals often sound more like science fiction than science, but the agency contributed to or created a number of now ubiquitous technologies, including a predecessor to GPS and most famously ARPANET, the computer network that grew into the modern internet.

Unlike more conservative, incremental research teams, DARPA aggressively pursues major scientific advances in a way that shares more in common with Silicon Valley than it does with other governmental agencies. Biden believes that using the DARPA model on cutting edge health research would keep the U.S. from lagging behind in biotech.

“China and other countries are closing in fast,” Biden said during the address. “We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future: advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, and clean energy.”

#arpanet, #biden, #biotechnology, #cancer, #congress, #darpa, #diabetes, #government, #health, #joe-biden, #life-sciences, #national-institute-of-health, #national-institutes-of-health, #president, #tc, #united-states, #white-house

C2i, a genomics SaaS product to detect traces of cancer, raises $100M Series B

If you or a loved one has ever undergone a tumor removal as part of cancer treatment, you’re likely familiar with the period of uncertainty and fear that follows. Will the cancer return, and if so, will the doctors catch it at an early enough stage? C2i Genomics has developed software that’s 100x more sensitive in detecting residual disease, and investors are pouncing on the potential. Today, C2i announced a $100 million Series B led by Casdin Capital. 

“The biggest question in cancer treatment is, ‘Is it working?’ Some patients are getting treatment they don’t benefit from and they are suffering the side effects while other patients are not getting the treatment they need,” said Asaf Zviran, co-founder and CEO of C2i Genomics in an interview.

Historically, the main approach to cancer detection post-surgery has been through the use of MRI or X-ray, but neither of those methods gets super accurate until the cancer progresses to a certain point. As a result, a patient’s cancer may return, but it may be a while before doctors are able to catch it.

Using C2i’s technology, doctors can order a liquid biopsy, which is essentially a blood draw that looks for DNA. From there they can sequence the entire genome and upload it to the C2i platform. The software then looks at the sequence and identifies faint patterns that indicate the presence of cancer, and can inform if it’s growing or shrinking.

“C2i is basically providing the software that allows the detection and monitoring of cancer to a global scale. Every lab with a sequencing machine can process samples, upload to the C2i platform and provide detection and monitoring to the patient,” Zviran told TechCrunch.

C2i Genomics’ solution is based on research performed at the New York Genome Center (NYGC) and Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) by Dr. Zviran, along with Dr. Dan Landau, faculty member at the NYGC and assistant professor of medicine at WCM, who serves as scientific co-founder and member of C2i’s scientific advisory board. The research and findings have been published in the medical journal, Nature Medicine.

While the product is not FDA-approved yet, it’s already being used in clinical research and drug development research at NYU Langone Health, the National Cancer Center of Singapore, Aarhus University Hospital and Lausanne University Hospital.

When and if approved, New York-based C2i has the potential to drastically change cancer treatment, including in the areas of organ preservation. For example, some people have functional organs, such as the bladder or rectum, removed to prevent cancer from returning, leaving them disabled. But what if the unnecessary surgeries could be avoided? That’s one goal that Zviran and his team have their minds set on achieving.

For Zviran, this story is personal. 

“I started my career very far from cancer and biology, and at the age of 28 I was diagnosed with cancer and I went for surgery and radiation. My father and then both of my in-laws were also diagnosed, and they didn’t survive,” he said.

Zviran, who today has a PhD in molecular biology, was previously an engineer with the Israeli Defense Force and some private companies. “As an engineer, looking into this experience, it was very alarming to me about the uncertainty on both the patients’ and physicians’ side,” he said.

This round of funding will be used to accelerate clinical development and commercialization of the company’s C2-Intelligence Platform. Other investors that participated in the round include NFX, Duquesne Family Office, Section 32 (Singapore), iGlobe Partners and Driehaus Capital.

#artificial-intelligence, #biotech, #blood-test, #c2i-genomics, #cancer, #cancer-screening, #cancer-treatment, #casdin-capital, #cloud, #cornell, #drug-development, #fda, #funding, #health, #imaging, #mri, #new-york-university, #radiation, #recent-funding, #saas, #startups, #surgery, #tc, #tumor, #x-ray

Music Therapy: Why Doctors Use it to Help Patients Cope

Music therapy is increasingly used to help patients cope with stress and promote healing.

#anxiety-and-stress, #cancer, #content-type-service, #harps, #hospitals, #music, #musical-instruments, #phobias, #post-traumatic-stress-disorder, #psychology-and-psychologists, #surgery-and-surgeons

Breast Cancer Centers Urge Annual Scans, Counter to U.S. Guidelines

A panel recommends biennial screenings, starting at 50, but a new study took issue with the way hundreds of centers are telling women 40 and up to come in yearly. Some experts contend that frequent mammograms can “do more harm than good.”

#breast-cancer, #cancer, #jama-internal-medicine-journal, #mammography, #preventive-medicine, #research, #tests-medical, #united-states-preventive-services-task-force, #women-and-girls, #your-feed-healthcare

A ‘Game Changer’ for Patients With Esophageal Cancer

A drug that unleashes the immune system offers a rare glimmer of hope for those with a cancer that resists most treatments.

#alcoholic-beverages, #bristol-myers-squibb-company, #cancer, #chemotherapy, #clinical-trials, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #east-asia, #esophageal-cancer, #new-england-journal-of-medicine, #radiation, #united-states

José Baselga, Who Advanced Breast Cancer Treatments, Dies at 61

He was a top executive at Memorial Sloan Kettering before resigning over payments from health care companies. He went on to lead cancer research at AstraZeneca.

#astrazeneca-plc, #baselga-jose, #breast-cancer, #cancer, #conflicts-of-interest, #deaths-obituaries, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #herceptin-drug, #memorial-sloan-kettering-cancer-center, #research

Is Coffee Good for Us? Maybe Machine Learning Can Help Figure It Out.

The advice from research on coffee, and nutrition more generally, always seems to be changing. Processing vast amounts of data could help us pin it down.

#artificial-intelligence, #cancer, #coffee, #diet-and-nutrition, #heart

Virus Variants Likely Evolved Inside People With Weak Immune Systems

Growing evidence suggests that people with cancer and other conditions that challenge their immune systems may be incubators of mutant viruses.

#antibodies, #cancer, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #immune-system, #leukemia, #your-feed-science

Nobody Wants Cancer. But a ‘Big C’ Label Has Surprising Upsides.

Classifying a rare blood disorder as a cancer opened new doors for disease investigation, treatment and hope for a cure.

#blood, #bone-marrow, #cancer, #clinical-trials, #drugs-pharmaceuticals

Forward Health raises $225M from investors including The Weeknd as it looks to expand nationwide

Primary care startup Forward Health is looking to expand its tech-powered, personalized healthcare model across the U.S., and will use a new $225 million Series D raise to help make it happen. The new capital comes from Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, SoftBank, Mark Benioff – and recording artist The Weeknd – among others. I spoke to Forward Health co-founder and CEO Adrian Aoun about his company’s plans for this fresh capital, and we also chatted briefly about how The Weeknd got involved.

Forward, which currently operates clinics in select U.S. markets including LA, New York, Chicago, SF and Washington, D.C., has a number of distinguishing features, but most notable are likely its tech-first approach that includes a full biometric assessment upon first visit, and its business model, which eschews insurance providers altogether and instead works based on a single flat membership fee.

Aoun and his co-founders created Forward Health with the idea of building a healthcare business that’s aligned with its customers in terms of incentives, which is why they sidestepped insurance altogether. That’s led to a focus on customer service and long-term patient relationships and outcomes, which Aoun says are stronger because they’re not bound by an individual’s relationship with their employer, for instance, which is often the case when an employer foots the bill for healthcare via company-provided insurance.

“The average person in the Bay Area is with their employer for about two and a quarter years,” Aoun told me. “So your employer is kind of sitting there thinking, if you get the flu, you’re missing three days of work – I’m out some money.” That means they’ll do things like institute programs to remind employees constantly to get their annual flu vaccine, and do other things to make that happen like provide on-premise shots. But Aoun says they’re optimizing for short-term outcomes, not long-term health – because that’s where their incentives tell them to optimize.

Image Credits: Forward Health

But when long-term healthcare programs, like lifestyle shifts that can lessen the potential of truly dangerous outcomes like heart disease and cancer, come into play, an employer who expects you to stick around for a few years at most is far less incentivized to want to fund that. Forward Health, which aims to attract subscribers and, for lack of a better term, minimize churn, actually is incentivized to make those long-term outcomes positive for everyone who comes through the door.

That’s part of why one focus with this new funding is to debut new doctor-led programs tailored to treating conditions that individual patients might be predisposed to – like heart health, if heart disease runs in your family, or specific types of cancer, if there’s a history of that, for instance.

“We’ve got our [in-clinic] body scanners, our blood tests, our gene sequencing – we basically collect on the order of about 500 biometric data points,” Aoun said. “The idea is you and your doctor then figure out which which kind of programs make sense for you based upon those.”

For example, Aoun says he’s actually at fairly high risk for developing heart disease, so there’s a Forward program that includes doing a heart risk analysis, blood tests, and regular at-home monitoring of key risk factors like blood pressure and weight. Another program for cancer prevention includes measures designed to help lessen the risk of contracting the top five cancers in terms of prevalence — so Forward created a dermatoscope for that, which is essentially a skin scanner to map out an individual’s moles and skin features and alert them of any changes.

This builds on work that Forward began at the outset of COVID-19 — its ‘Forward at Home’ program, which includes sending patients home with specialized sensors for remote care. Another specialized program tailored to COVID-19 actually offers monitoring specific to the disease in order to track a patient’s progress safely.

“We’re now launching programs for all the top diseases to help you get ahead of them,” Aoun said. “And whatever kind of programs you’re using, you walk away with plans that are tailored to you, again, to counsel you not only on the potential risks for the things like the cancer and heart disease, but also to be proactive, with guidance from diet, to exercise, to stress, and to sleep, etc.”

The programs are supported by Forward’s 24/7 worldwide care support team, which subscribers can access via their mobile app. It’s also complemented by the check-ins with your physician via the ‘Forward at Home’ in-home virtual visits.

Image Credits: Forward Health

While Forward is already rolling these out, it has plans to continue to develop new ones, and it’s also monitoring results in order to understand how they’re working for users, and will be sharing that data once it has collected a significant sample. I asked Aoun how Forward can scale this kind of personalized care – especially now that the startup plans to open additional locations in other parts of the country.

Basically, Aoun said that Forward approached it as an engineering problem. He argues that most solutions in healthcare see the fundamental issue as a labor problem — but trying to scale that, with the salaries that medical professionals command, and the limited availability of skilled talent, makes no sense. Especially because consumers are naturally looking for improvements in their standard of care over time, in the same way they expect improvements in the products they buy or services they use.

Rather than relying on a chain of increasingly specific medical professionals to address individual health risks and needs, Aoun said Forward identified that there’s a massive amount of overlap in preventative care courses of action. The Forward team focused on breaking the fundamental elements down into what equate roughly to reusable Lego blocks, which can be recombined with relative speed and repeatability to produce a program that’s nonetheless tailored to an individual’s needs.

Combined with Forward Health’s longitudinal approach to care, these programs and their recombinant nature should prove a good dataset from which to assess how a direct, client-focused primary care model affects overall health.

And, because I promised, I’ll leave you with how Aoun says The Weeknd got involved in the Series D.

“He literally just walked by one of our locations, and walked in and was like, ‘This is awesome,’ and then asked a friend, who asked a friend, who asked a friend to get connected,” he told me.

#adrian-aoun, #artist, #cancer, #chicago, #disease, #flu, #forward, #forward-health, #founders-fund, #health, #healthcare, #khosla-ventures, #louisiana, #new-york, #physician, #recent-funding, #softbank, #startups, #tc, #united-states, #washington-d-c

Ibex Medical Analytics raises $38M for its AI-powered cancer diagnostic platform

Israel-based Ibex Medical Analytics, which has an AI-driven imaging technology to detect cancer cells in biopsies more efficiently, has raised a $38 million Series B financing round led by Octopus Ventures and 83North. Also participating in the round was aMoon, Planven Entrepreneur Ventures and Dell Technologies Capital, the corporate venture arm of Dell Technologies. The company has now raised a total of $52 million since its launch in 2016. Ibex plans to use the investment to further sell into diagnostic labs in North America and Europe.

Originally incubated out of the Kamet Ventures incubator, Ibex’s “Galen” platform mimics the work of a pathologist, allowing them to diagnose cancer more accurately and faster and derive new insights from a biopsy specimen.

Because rates of cancer are on the rise and the medical procedures have become more complex, pathologists have a higher workload. Plus, says Ibex, there is a global shortage of pathologists, which can mean delays to the whole diagnostic process. The company claims pathologists can be 40% more productive using its solution.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Joseph Mossel, Ibex CEO and Co-founder said: “You can think of it as a pathologist’s assistant, so it kind of prepares the case in advance, marks the regions of interest, and allows the pathologist to achieve the efficiency gains.”

He said the company has secured the largest pathology network in France, and LD path, which is five pathology labs that service 24 NHS trusts in the UK, among others.

Michael Niddam, of Kamet Ventures said Ibex was an “excellent example of how Kamet works with founders very early on.” Ibex founders Joseph Mossel and Dr. Chaim Linhart had previously joined Kamet as Entrepreneurs in Residence before developing their idea.

#assistant, #cancer, #dell-technologies-capital, #europe, #france, #imaging, #kamet-ventures, #nhs, #north-america, #octopus-ventures, #outer-space, #pathology, #spacecraft, #spaceflight, #tc, #united-kingdom

New clinical trial data from Locus Biosciences shows promise in CRISPR-Cas3 technology

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest potential threats to global health today. But Locus Biosciences is hoping that their crPhage technology might provide a new solution.

Based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, the startup recently announced promising phase 1b clinical trial results for their use of CRISPR-Cas3-enhanced bacteriophages as a treatment for urinary tract infections caused by escherichia coli. Led in part by former Patheon executive and current Locus CEO Paul Garofolo, the startup launched in 2015 with the goal of using a less popular application of CRISPR technology to address growing antimicrobial resistance.

CRISPR-Cas3 technology has notably different mechanisms from its more well-known CRISPR-Cas9 counterpart. Where the Cas9 enzyme has the ability to cleanly cut through a piece of DNA like a pair of scissors, Garofolo describes Cas3 more like a Pac-Man, shredding the DNA as it moves along a strand.

“You wouldn’t be able to use it for most of the editing platforms people were after,” he said, noting that meant there wouldn’t be as much competition around Cas3. “So I knew it would be protected for some time, and that we could keep it quiet.”

Garofolo and his team wanted to use CRISPR-Cas3 not to edit harmful bacteria found in the body, but to destroy it. To do this, they took the DNA-shredding mechanism of Cas3 and used it to enhance bacteriophages—viruses that can attack and kill different species of bacteria. Together, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dave Ousterout—who has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Duke—thinks this technology offers an extremely direct and targeted way of killing bacteria.

“We armed the phages with this Cas3 system that attacks E. coli, and that sort of dual mechanism of action is what comes together, essentially, as a really potent way to remove just E. coli,” he said in an interview.

That specificity is something that antibiotics lack. Rather than targeting only harmful bacteria in the body, antibiotics typically wipe out all bacteria they come across. “Every time we take antibiotics, we’re not thinking about all the other parts of us that are impacted by the bacteria that do good things,” said Garofolo. But the precision of Locus Biosciences’ crPhage technology means that only the targeted bacteria would be wiped out, leaving those necessary to the body’s normal function intact.

Beyond offering this more specific approach to treatment of pathogens, or any bacteria-based disease, Garofolo and his team also suspect that their approach will also be extremely safe. Though deadly to bacteria, bacteriophages are typically harmless to humans. The safety of CRISPR in humans is well-established, too.

“That’s our secret sauce,” said Garofolo. “We can build drugs that are more powerful than the antibiotics they’re trying to replace, and they use phage, which is probably one of the world’s safest ways to deliver something into the human body.”

While this new technology could certainly help treat pathogens and infectious diseases, Garofolo hopes that indications in immunology, oncology, and neurology might benefit from it too. “We’re starting to figure out that some bacteria might promote cancer, or inflammation in your gut,” he said. If researchers can identify the bacteria at the root cause of those conditions, Garofolo and Ousterout think the crPhage technology might prove to be an effective treatment.

“If we’re right about that, it’s not just about infections or antimicrobial resistance, but helping people overcome cancer or delay the onset of dementia,” Garofolo said. “It’s changing the way we think about how bacteria really help us live.”


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#biology, #biotech, #biotechnology, #cancer, #cas-3, #crispr, #enzymes, #genetic-engineering, #health, #life-sciences, #locus-biosciences, #north-carolina, #science, #startups

Drinking Alcohol and Cancer: Should Your Cocktail Carry a Cancer Warning?

As pandemic disruptions lead many of us to drink more, experts underscore the link between alcohol and disease.

#alcoholic-beverages, #anxiety-and-stress, #breast-cancer, #cancer, #colon-and-colorectal-cancer, #diet-and-nutrition, #estrogen, #liver-cancer, #medicine-and-health, #obesity

She Beat Cancer at 10. Now She’ll Join SpaceX’s First Private Trip to Orbit.

St. Jude Hospital and Jared Isaacman, a billionaire entrepreneur, selected Hayley Arceneaux for a trip to orbit in a SpaceX capsule.

#arceneaux-hayley, #cancer, #isaacman-jared-1983, #private-spaceflight, #prostheses, #space-and-astronomy, #space-exploration-technologies-corp, #st-jude-childrens-research-hospital

Who Will Be the Next F.D.A. Chief?

Two leading contenders generate wider debate about the leadership needed to restore morale and scientific integrity to an agency battered by the politicized Trump administration.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #cancer, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #food-and-drug-administration, #research, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-healthcare

Emil Freireich, Groundbreaking Cancer Researcher, Dies at 93

He helped devise a successful chemotherapy regimen for childhood leukemia, which had long been a death sentence.

#blood-donation, #cancer, #deaths-obituaries, #frei-emil-iii-1924-2013, #freireich-emil, #leukemia, #national-cancer-institute, #national-institutes-of-health, #university-of-texas-m-d-anderson-cancer-center

In the Vaccine Scramble, Cancer Patients Are Left Behind

Those with compromised immune systems are often advised to get the shots under medical supervision, but their cancer centers can’t always provide them.

#cancer, #chemotherapy, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #immune-system, #vaccination-and-immunization

Firefighters Battle an Unseen Hazard: Their Gear Could Be Toxic

This week, in a first, firefighters are demanding independent testing for cancer-linked chemicals known as PFAS in their gear and that their union drop sponsorships from chemical and equipment makers.

#cancer, #chemicals, #fires-and-firefighters, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #international-assn-of-fire-fighters, #national-fire-protection-assn, #organized-labor, #protective-clothing-and-gear, #united-states, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

A Living Legacy in Pediatric Cancer Research

Even as he was dying, he worked to raise awareness of pediatric cancer. Now scientists are using his cells to help others.

#cancer, #cancer-journal, #children-and-childhood, #purdue-university, #research, #tumors