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Media Monitoring: 11/12 – 17/12

By December 17, 2021No Comments

UKHSA ramps up testing availability following record week for distribution

  • The UK’s testing programme is the biggest in Europe with nearly 400 million tests carried out to date, twice the number in France and more than four times the number in Germany
  • So far this week around 400,000 test kits have been delivered to people’s homes each day to help combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • By Saturday 18 December, 900,000 deliveries a day will be made to ensure that even more people can order either a PCR or LFD test directly to their home
  • Pharmacies are now able to access 10.5 million lateral flow tests per week, an increase of 5.5 million tests per week

Collaboration develops stool sample kit to improve diagnosis of TB in children

  • 42 Technology (42T), FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics, and Rutgers University (Rutgers) have worked together to develop an innovative stool sample processing kit that has played a central role in informing the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent policy update to improve the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) in children
  • The sample processing kit (SPK) was developed to determine whether stool samples and an automated PCR test could be used as a viable alternative to smear microscopy and culture techniques when diagnosing children
  • Stool is the ideal non-invasive sample, but it requires extensive pre-processing before it can be analysed using highly sensitive PCR tests
  • The easy-to-use SPK has been designed to effectively process stool samples without the need for any specialist laboratory equipment or technical skills

Early-stage lung cancer may soon be detectable from a drop of blood

  • A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides proof-of-concept for the ability of a drop of blood to reveal lung cancer in asymptomatic patients
  • “Our study demonstrates the potential for developing a sensitive screening tool for the early detection of lung cancer,” says Leo Cheng Ph.D.
  • The presence of lung cancer, with its altered physiology and pathology, can cause changes in the blood metabolites produced or consumed by cancer cells in the lungs 

Blood test detects immune and inflammatory activity in tissues, without painful biopsies and expensive imaging

  • A group of scientists, led by Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) MD/Ph.D. student Ilana Fox-Fisher and Professor Yuval Dor at HU’s Institute for Medical Research-Israel Canada (IMRIC) has developed a novel method to monitor remote immune processes within remote tissues and organs
  • The work, published recently in eLife, relies on two fundamental biological principles. First, dying cells release fragments of DNA into the blood stream. Second, the DNA of each cell type contains a unique chemical pattern called methylation
  • Based on these principles, scientists can identify from which tissue the circulating fragments of DNA originated and infer disease states

Protein test could lead to earlier and better diagnosis of Parkinson’s

  • Scientists at the Oxford Parkinson’s Disease Centre (OPDC) have been able to use a highly-sensitive method called α-synuclein real-time quaking-induced conversion (αSyn-RT-QuIC) to observe the clumping of alpha-synuclein in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) taken from people with Parkinson’s
  • By having a tool for diagnosis that can be used in the clinic to distinguish between people who have MSA and Parkinson’s but also measure the progression of the condition, delayed diagnosis can be avoided
  • The test showed 89 percent sensitivity for correctly identifying people with Parkinson’s and 96 percent specificity for correctly identifying people without the condition
  • These promising findings published in Brain show that the tool has potential to help diagnose Parkinson’s accurately and early

Researchers first to predict when bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics

  • Scientists have spotted signs of ‘pre-resistance’ in bacteria for the first time—signs that particular bacteria are likely to become resistant to antibiotics in the future—in a new study led by UCL and Great Ormond Street Hospital researchers
  • The findings, published in Nature Communications, will allow doctors in the future to select the best treatments for bacterial infections
  • The authors described how variations in the TB genome predicted that a particular branch would likely become drug resistant, and then validated their findings in an independent global TB data set
  • By analyzing thousands of bacterial genomes, the study has the potential to be applied to other infectious diseases and paves the way towards personalized pathogen ‘genomic therapy’
  • The work is the culmination of 17 years’ research in the suburbs of Lima, Peru

Researchers uncover more than 1300 genes linked to congenital heart disease

  • One in every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart disease (CHD), and CHD is the major cause of death in newborns—however the genetic cause of these developmental disorders is not fully understood
  • Researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia have developed a way to determine which genes are “in play” in causing these cardiac abnormalities
  • The technique not only confirmed well-known CHD genes, but also discovered 35 new genes not previously suspected in the disease. The research opens the way, in the future, for more accurate pre-natal genetic testing for congenital heart disease

Ben Kemp