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Breakthrough as genetic sequencing predicts severity of COVID variants

  • Drexel University researchers have pioneered a new computer model which can aid health services in identifying new strains of the disease with the help of machine learning
  • The new model analyses the genetic sequencing from the virus’s spike protein
  • The machine learning algorithm can then compare this with patient data – such as age and sex – to make projections when new mutations are discovered


Comment: Britain’s path to economic and national renewal is the genome revolution

  • Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of The Telegraph makes the argument that making the UK the “Silicon Valley” of genomics will bring immense economic rewards


New Parkinson’s test after woman discovers she could ‘smell the disease’

  • The test was inspired by Joy Milne, who could smell her husband’s Parkinson’s 12 years before the diagnosis
  • University of Manchester researchers, alongside Joy, have developed a simple skin-swab test with 95% accuracy under lab conditions
  • The researchers analysed patient’s sebum from their back – an area where it is less likely to be washed away – and found 500 unique compounds were different among Parkinson’s patients compared to the control group


Sticky tape test on babies can predict eczema risk

  • University of Copenhagen researchers were able to predict a baby’s future eczema risk by collecting skin samples painlessly by using sticky tape
  • They could then identify detectable biomarker changes which allowed them to make the prediction
  • High-risk babies could then be treated much earlier with creams and lotions to prevent painful incidents in future


Promising blood test for ALS diagnosis developed

  • A microRNA-based blood test to diagnose ALS was developed in 2020, but difficult storage and shipping conditions meant the test was unable to be adopted widely
  • Researchers have now replicated the test with less stringent requirements and is currently being verified by doctors
  • This would allow the test to be easily utilised by clinicians


Government extends Horizon Europe financial safety net

  • The government has announced an extension to the financial support provided to Horizon Europe applicants, originally launched in November 2021
  • Association to EU programmes remains the UK’s preference, with the government’s priority to maintain support for the UK’s research and development sector during ongoing period of uncertainty
  • Guarantee will now be in place to cover all Horizon Europe calls that close on or before 31 December 2022


The Monthly Diagnostics data for July 2022

  • The total number of patients waiting six weeks or more from referral for one of the 15 key diagnostic tests at the end of July 2022 was 424,600. This was 27.9% of the total number of patients waiting at the end of the month.
  • Nationally, the operational standard of less than 1% of patients waiting six weeks or more was not met this month.
  • Compared with July 2021 the total number of patients waiting six weeks or more increased by 99,400 while the proportion of patients waiting six weeks or more increased by 4.4 percentage points.
  • In the last 12 months, the proportion of patients waiting six weeks or more at the end of a month has varied between 24.0% (August 2021) and 29.9% (January 2022).
  • The estimated average time that a patient had been waiting for a diagnostic test was 3.3 weeks at the end of July 2022.
  • There were 1,521,700 patients waiting for a key diagnostic test at the end of July 2022. This is an increase of 138,300 from July 2021.
  • A total of 1,940,100 diagnostic tests were undertaken in July 2022. This is an increase of 5,900 from July 2021.