At 83bar, we are constantly monitoring the healthcare industry to keep up with the latest advancements. Read below to stay in the know.
New Saliva-Based Covid-19 Test
Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health developed a saliva test for COVID-19, and the
FDA authorized emergency use of the test this past weekend. Saliva tests offer a less invasive
alternative to nasal swabs. The tests are also highly-sensitive, missing few who have the
disease. One major advantage of the test is that it does not depend on chemical reagents that
have been in short supply over the months and can be processed in less than three hours
compared to days with nasal swabs. This could make the test widely available and less costly.
Yale plans reveal the protocol behind the new test so that other labs across the country can
ramp up usage and offer a low-cost alternative with a price of $10 per test.
Herd Immunity for COVID-19 May be Closer than Experts Once Believed
Herd immunity is the point in time where the spread of the virus is limited because there are not
enough people left who are susceptible to the virus because they are immune to it from a prior
infection. Scientists have suggested that 70% of a given population would need to be
immune, through infection or vaccine, to achieve this milestone. However, in recent interviews
with scientists, the cutoff appears to be much lower, perhaps, 50% or less. In more populated
areas such as New York, it is possible that substantial protection from herd immunity has
The basis for the herd immunity calculation is based on how many people get infected from one
infected person, also known as the reproductive number or R0. The original assumptions were
that every person had the same susceptibility and was randomly exposed to everyone else in
the community. We now know that is not the case because certain sub-groups are at higher
risk, such as those with obesity, high blood pressure, underlying cardiovascular disease,
diabetes, and the immunocompromised. Such is the case where nursing home residents are
highly susceptible but have limited ability to spread the disease to the general public, whereas
young people rarely get the disease but may carry it asymptomatically and spread it more
widely. Furthermore, rural and suburban regions spread the disease slowly compared to high-
density urban areas
Tom Britton, a mathematician at Stockholm University, developed a model that puts the lowest
threshold for herd immunity at 43% such that the virus will disappear once that percentage of
residents have been infected and recovered. However, how long immunity lasts and whether
vaccines will work long term will also factor into that number.
Glucagon Kits for Diabetes Patients
Hypoglycemia is a known risk for people with diabetes, and they must rely on complicated
glucagon kits to treat hypoglycemia. Xeris Pharmaceuticals changed that with the first FDA-
approved prefilled syringe with auto-injector features. Gvoke HypoPen can be used for severe
hypoglycemia in children and adults. It allows patients to quickly inject glucagon by themselves,
compared to the Gvoke prefilled syringes that require the assistance from someone else. The
HypoPen is easy to use and restores blood glucose levels rapidly. There has been rapid
customer adoption amid the COVID-19 pandemic accounting for 60% of new Gvoke
prescriptions, and it is expected to rise to 80%.
Colon Cancer Screening Update
Colonoscopy is still the most effective screening tool for the detection of colorectal cancer
(CRC). Because many people refuse this test due to factors such as time off work and requiring
another person to accompany them, innovators have developed various alternative screening
methods for CRC that gastroenterologists believe are better than no test at all. Naturally, any
positive tests would need a follow-up colonoscopy for a confirmatory diagnosis because a tissue
biopsy is needed.
Recently, the NCI-sponsored cancer intervention and surveillance modeling network (CISNET)
published a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that compared the cost-
effectiveness of alternative CRC screening methods. They evaluated computed tomography
colonography PillCam, mtSDNA home test called Cologuard, and the EpiSEPT 9 via Epi
proColon. Epi proColon is a blood test and ranked highest in cost-effectiveness compared to the
stool-based, DNA test Cologuard and the PillCam
Epi proColon performed annually can reduce the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer
primarily for those who refuse colonoscopy or stool-based testing.
Organova Deal Terminated Amid the COVID-19 Crisis
Organova is a company that specializes in 3-D Bioprinted tissues but failed to meet clinical
milestones. They wanted to acquire Tarveda Therapeutics, which would give Organova a seat
at the table with precision oncology medicines. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
Organova terminated that merger.
Trevada New Generic Status Helps Lower Costs for United Healthcare
UnitedHealthcare has decided not to cover the new HIV PrEP drug, Descovy, due to Truvada's
new generic status as of September 30, 2020. This poses a huge blow to HIV giant Gilead
Sciences. If Descovy is sought out by patients, they will need to go through prior authorization
and prove medical necessity since Truvada will be offered with no out-of-pocket expense. The
two drugs have similar efficacy, but Descovy has better kidney and bone toxicities.
Blood Test for Alzheimer’s
The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is complicated and has been traditionally determined at the time of
death by the presence of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain. An inexpensive blood
test for the presence of plaques and tangles is now available. According to a recent study,
measurements of phospho-tau217 (p-tau217), which is one of the tau proteins found in tangles,
maybe an accurate way to diagnose Alzheimer’s.
The Chronology of COVID-19 Symptoms Determined
USC researchers have discovered the probable order in which COVID-19 symptoms start to
appear. Fever is first, followed by cough, muscle pain, and then nausea, or vomiting, and
diarrhea. These findings can help clinicians identify what stage the person is in and initiate
Antibiotic Resistance Has Multiple Causes: Not Only Due to the Overuse of Antibiotics
There is a strong correlation between antibiotic resistance and heavy metal contamination in an
environment. According to a study published in July from the journal Microbial Biotechnology,
soils with heavy metals had a higher level of specific bacterial that were accompanied by
antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) to vancomycin, bacitracin, and polymixin.
Three Out of Eight Types of Mouthwash Highly Active Against COVID-19
Dequonal Dequalinium chloride, benzalkonium chloride, Iso-Betadine mouthwash 0%
Polyvidone-iodine, and Listerine Cool Mint Ethanol, essential oils all reduced viral loads in a
recent study conducted in Petrie dishes by a magnitude of 3-fold. Mouthwash cannot do
anything to viruses inside of cells, though.