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Media Monitoring: March 5th – 12th

By March 11, 2022No Comments

Prime Minister announces COVID-19 Inquiry Chair

  • Today (Wednesday 15 December) the Prime Minister has appointed the Rt Hon Baroness Heather Hallett DBE as Chair of the forthcoming public inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The Inquiry, set to begin its work in spring 2022, will be established under the Inquiries Act 2005, with full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath


Funders recognise the impact of COVID-19 on future applications

  • A funders’ statement asserts that disruptions to research activities caused by the pandemic will be taken into account in future applications
  • The statement encourages researchers to continue to apply to research schemes in the knowledge that historic impacts will be considered when assessing new applications


Government over halfway to delivering 50,000 more nurses by 2024

  • The government is on track to meet its manifesto commitment to deliver 50,000 more nurses in the NHS by 2024, with over 27,000 more nurses now working across the NHS
  • A progress report published today shows that overall total nurse numbers now stand at 327,907, as of December 2021, compared to 300,904 in September 2019


Genetic study gives extensive insights into severe Covid-19

  • The world’s largest study of the genetics of critical Covid-19, involving more than 57,000 people, has revealed fresh details about some of the biological mechanisms behind the severe form of the disease
  • Determining the whole genome sequence for all participants in the study allowed the team to create a precise map and identify genetic variation linked to severity of Covid-19. The team found key differences in 16 genes in the ICU patients when compared with the DNA of the other groups


Garvan Institute scientists develop DNA test to screen genetic diseases

  • Researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, have developed a new DNA test that can identify a range of hard-to-diagnose neurological and neuromuscular genetic diseases
  • Using a single DNA sample, the test can assess the genome of a patient for more than 50 genetic neurological and neuromuscular diseases, including Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophies and fragile X syndrome


Joint statement on delivering the 100 Days Mission

  • The 100 Days Mission aims to have safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics within 100 days of an epidemic or pandemic threat being identified
  • The statement commits our shared support for CEPI’s mission: to support the development of vaccines against emerging infectious disease and enable equitable access to those vaccines during outbreaks


Hearing loss and epilepsy may be early signs of Parkinson’s disease

  • The most extensive UK study to date into the condition has identified that hearing loss and epilepsy are potentially early signs of Parkinson’s disease
  • The team discovered that some symptoms closely associated with the condition, such as tremors and memory issues, can present up to ten and five years before a diagnosis, respectively


Lower number of cancer research projects funded during the pandemic

  • Cancer research projects are vital for uncovering new treatment options and cancer prevention techniques. The NCRI are pioneers in cancer research; they work to identify gaps in research areas and address them through comprehensive studies, uniting scientific and medical professionals intending to advance cancer research in the UK
  • The NCRI has observed a substantial decrease in the number of cancer research projects funded between 2019 and 2020, approximately a 32% decrease


Revolutionising prostate cancer screening with a risk algorithm

  • The accuracy of prostate cancer screening could improve significantly by calculating a person’s risk of developing the disease by using results from two blood markers
  • The researchers developed an algorithm estimating a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer based on age and the levels of two prostate cancer markers, PSA and Hk2 (human kallikrein peptidase)
  • They tested how well the algorithm could predict prostate cancer by comparing blood samples of men who later died after a prostate cancer diagnosis with those who were never diagnosed with the disease


Innovation Pop Up draws praise from chief scientific officer

  • The chief scientific officer for England, Professor Dame Susan Hill, has praised the Innovation Pop Up at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust for fostering “impressive new technologies.”
  • Based at the Gilbert Scott building, the Pop Up is helping the NHS to overcome barriers to adoption for healthtech and represents the first step in the development of a globally significant innovation district in Leeds
  • Since its launch in September 2021, the Innovation Pop Up has worked with 150 companies including AI specialist iMedis and 3D LifePrints


AI and advanced imaging tech could transform cervical screening

  • University Hospital Monklands has become the first hospital in the UK and one of the first in the world to pilot a technology using artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced imaging that could improve early diagnosis of pre-cancerous cells and cancer cells as part of its cervical screening programme
  • For the pilot programme purpose, the system will create digital images of cervical smear slides from samples that have tested positive for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). These images of test slides can be rapidly reviewed using an advanced algorithm, which assesses the cervical cells in the sample and provides the screener with an image gallery of the most diagnostically relevant cells


Stool tests might help spot early pancreatic cancer

  • The findings, described in the journal Gut, suggest detectable changes involving gut bugs could provide a warning sign that a tumour is present
  • Currently, fewer than one in 20 of those with the most common form – ductal adenocarcinoma – will survive for five years or more. Earlier detection could improve those odds


NHS proposes new standards for cancer diagnosis and treatment

  • Through the introduction of the new proposals, if accepted, the NHS would focus on the time from referral to people finding out their results within a maximum of 28 days.
  • This new standard would allow cancer diagnosis and treatment to be prioritised with the hope to address the disease quicker and saving lives
  • The faster diagnosis proposal has been implemented and tested in selected areas, with the data showing that performance against the 62-day referral to treatment procedure was significantly higher (74.9%) than the control group (71.7%) when using the new measures

Ben Kemp