Combination of two oral drugs boosted survival rates for leukemia patients from 83% to 96% - Godz
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Combination of two oral drugs boosted survival rates for leukemia patients from 83% to 96%

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A novel combination of two oral drugs can help leukemia patients survive and recover from their disease, a new study shows.

Researchers looked at three years of data of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and found patients had a 96 percent survival rate and a 75 percent rate of seeing their cancer disappear after taking the ‘cocktail.’

All patients involved with the trial were older or had genetic indicators marking them as high-risk for leukemia.

The team, from the team from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, says further research into drugs like the combination tested in this trial will make it easier for leukemia patients to beat their disease and live healthy lives.

A combination of two already-approved leukemia drugs dramatically increases patients’ chances of survival and remission, a new study shows

Patients in the study had a 96 percent survival rate and a 93 percent rate of surviving without cancer progression

Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow, lymphatic system, and other parts of the body that carry blood.

Someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer every three minutes, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with an estimated 60,000 people diagnosed with leukemia in 2020.

Leukemia and other blood cancers cause about one in ten cancer deaths in the U.S., but the survival rate for this disease has greatly improved in recent decades thanks to research and new treatments.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (or CLL) is a type of this disease that’s most common in U.S. adults. 

Adults may have CLL developing in their bodies for years without knowing they have it and the survival rate is higher than other forms of leukemia, about 83 percent.

Doctors rely on certain genetic markers – abnormalities in a person’s DNA – to identify chronic leukemia patients. 

Previous cancer treatment, exposure to certain chemicals, and smoking can also increase the risk of leukemia.

There are several drugs approved for chronic lymphocytic leukemia treatment, including three Bruton tyrosine kinase inhibitors – which stop the blood cells involved in leukemia from multiplying out of control.

In past studies, these drugs have been administered on their own, leading to partial recovery.

But two of these drugs may work better when administered together, according to the study, which was published JAMA Oncology.

After previous research showed that the combination of ibrutinib and venetoclax (two existing leukemia drugs) worked well in a lab setting, they took this treatment to patients. 

The trial included 80 patients who hadn’t previously been treated for leukemia. Half of the patients were in a later, more critical disease stage – and the majority had genetic markers predisposing them to leukemia.

Many of the patients were older, about a third were over age 70, and the majority of patients – 94 percent – were white.

The researchers administered the leukemia drug combination for about two years. If patients still had evidence of cancer after those two years, they became eligible for a third year of treatment.

The majority of patients in the study saw lower levels of cancer in their bone marrow after taking the drug combination for two years

Results from this trial show that the two drugs tested work better together than they do individually.

Three-quarters of the patients in the study achieved cancer remission – meaning the disease had disappeared – within three years of starting treatment. 

Some patients achieved remission even more quickly with 66 percent reaching remission in two years, and 56 percent reaching it in only one year.

Almost all patients, 93 percent, survived the trial without any cancer progression and 96 percent survived overall.

None of the patients had their leukemia progress to a later, more severe stage during the trial, though a small number did suffer from other forms of cancer.

Notably, patients with different genetic makeups – including those with predisposed high risk for leukemia – responded well to the drug combination.

Leukemia patients have much better chances of survival now than they did decades ago, thanks to advances in treatment

‘These long-term results show that two years of oral targeted therapy can achieve lasting disease remission for patients with CLL,’ said Dr Nitin Jain, lead author of the study, in a statement.

‘The majority of patients achieved bone marrow MRD remission and no patients on the trial had CLL disease progression.’

The results from this study are consistent with another study that used the same drug combination. 

However, because the trial overwhelmingly looked at white leukemia patients, it may have missed side effects or complications for patients of color. 

The need for trial diversity has become an increasing focus for the medical research community in recent years.

Future studies will need to examine how well the drugs work for more diverse patient groups, as well as treatment timing. 

The two drugs studied in this trial can confer their own adverse effects if patients are using them for a long time.

‘I think this will be one of several standard of care treatments available for patients with CLL,’ Jain said.

‘There are pros and cons to each of those approaches, and physicians will have to decide which option is best for their patient.’ 

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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US government purchases 200 million additional COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna 

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The U.S. government has purchased 200 million additional doses of Moderna‘s COVID-19 vaccine.

With the 300 million doses already purchased from the biotechnology company, that brings America’s total order up to 500 million.

Under the terms of agreement, Moderna will deliver 110 million doses by the end of 2021 and 90 million in the first quarter of 2022.

What’s more, the Biden administration will also have the option to purchase any future coronavirus immunizations that Moderna is working on.

‘We appreciate the collaboration with the U.S government for these additional doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which could be used for primary vaccination, including of children, or possibly as a booster if that becomes necessary to continue to defeat the pandemic,’ said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a statement.

‘We remain focused on being proactive as the virus evolves by leveraging the flexibility of our mRNA platform to stay ahead of emerging variants.’   

It comes as the rate of vaccinations in the U.S. has slowed significantly to an average of 1.1 million shots per day, down from an average of 3.3 million in early April – making it highly unlikely the U.S. will meet President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating 70 percent of all U.S. adults by July 4.

The U.S. government has purchased an 200 more million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the total order to 500 million. Pictured: A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site in New York City, January 29

It is not exactly clear what the future doses will be used for but there are a few theories.

One is that the shots sitting in the U.S. stockpile may have expiration dates that are approaching and the new doses will replace those.

Another is that, because scientists believe COVID-19 is going to become an endemic disease – meaning it is always circulating at low rates – all future generations will have to be vaccinated against it, and the doses are in preparation for when the vaccine is authorized in kids.

A third option could be that the doses are used as part of Biden’s plan to deliver at least 80 million shots for about 100 countries.

The new doses will not be used as boosters, which Moderna is currently testing in clinical trials with the National Institutes of Health.

The company has developed two different types of boosters,  one with a new formula called mRNA-1273.351, and another called mRNA-1273.211, which combines Moderna’s original vaccine and the booster shot in one dose.

Two-thirds of participants different doses of mRNA-1273.351 and the remaining third will get the combination booster. 

Less than one week ago, Moderna asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine to Americans between ages 12 and 17.

When the vaccine was originally authorized for use by the FDA in December 2020, it was only for those aged 18 and older. 

However, recent Phase III clinical trial data showed no children who were given the immunization fell ill with the virus within 14 days of their second dose, while four children given the placebo later tested positive.

According to Moderna, this is ‘consistent with a vaccine efficacy of 100 percent.’ 

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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Truck drivers with poor nutrition are more likely to have fatigue and be dangerous drivers

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Having a poor diet may increase the risk of dangerous driving for truck drivers, a new study suggests. 

A Beijing-based team of researchers looked at the diets of nearly 400 male truck drivers in Suzhou, China – a city west of Shanghai in the Jiangsu province.

They determined that drivers who ate more more junk food, snacks and animal proteins were more likely to be fatigued and drive dangerously, which could lead to car crashes.

Conversely, truck operators who ate vegetable-rich diets were more likely to be safer and more alert on the road.

Truckers with poor diets are more likely to be fatigued, make errors and be aggressive drivers. A study in Germany found that many truckers eat poor diets as they eat a large portion of their food at truck stops, where there are not as many healthy options

Most of the drivers were between the ages of 31 and 60, with between six to 10 years experience as a driver, and between 31,000 to 62,000 miles (50,000 and 100,000 kilometers) on the road in an average year.

Each of the drivers in the study, which is available Tuesday in the Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal, was given a survey, asking how often they ate each of 25 different types of food over the past 12 months.

Drivers were placed into categories according to their reported diets: vegetable rich, staple foods (like eggs, milk and other common items), animal proteins and snack foods. 

They also completed Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory surveys, which judge physical and mental fatigue, and they were surveyed on their behaviors and attitudes while on the road.

Those who ate vegetable rich or staple food diets were found to have less fatigue and be safer drivers.

They were more attentive, made fewer errors while driving and were less aggressive with their driving. 

Meanwhile, drivers with animal protein-based diets and those who were on snack food diets were more likely to be unsafe drivers.

All truckers in these two groups were likely to make more errors and be more aggressive than their peers, with drivers on snack food diets being especially unlikely to exhibit positive driving behaviors. 

‘The results of this study support a relationship between dietary patterns and driving behavior in a sample of professional truck drivers,’ the researchers wrote.

‘Moreover, through the pathway analysis reported, it is possible to conclude that positive driving behavior can be predicted by prudent dietary patterns such as vegetable-rich diets, while some dangerous driving behaviors (errors, lapses and violations), can be predicted by unhealthy dietary patterns characterized by high intake of fats and [sugars].’

Drivers dietary pattern effects both their level of fatigue and driving behaviors, while fatigue can likely effect drivers behaviors as well

Both of the latter two categories were also associated with higher levels of fatigue. 

There have long been links between eating a healthier diet and having more energy throughout the day, and being more attentive. 

Truckers often eat at truck stops, and do not have time to cook for themselves, instead eating the food available to them at these stops. 

About 37 percent of the truckers in the study either ate all of their meals or a lot of their meals at truck stops.

Truckers who brought food from home were often eating healthier foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts rather than the meats, snack foods and sugary foods those who ate on the roads did. 

The researchers also note that there are demonstrable links between making unhealthy life choices and also living a more dangerous lifestyle, as people who eat more unhealthy food are more likely to take unneeded risks. 

Because fatigued drivers were more likely to be dangerous, and fatigued drivers were more likely to make the poorer diet choices, researchers believe the fatigue played a role in less attentive and error prone driving as well.

They can not be 100 percent certain, though, according to their report.  

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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NHS to give artificial pancreas to 1,000 diabetics to test if it prevents life-threatening attacks

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A thousand diabetes patients will be given an artificial pancreas as part of a pilot scheme, the head of the NHS said yesterday.

Patients with type 1 diabetes will be able to use the devices, which continuously measure a person’s glucose levels and deliver insulin directly to the bloodstream – automatically balancing blood sugar levels.

Chief executive Sir Simon Stevens told the NHS Confederation’s conference up to 1,000 patients will benefit from a test of the innovative technology.

A thousand diabetes patients will be given an artificial pancreas as part of a pilot scheme, the head of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens (pictured) said

The devices could help eliminate finger prick diabetes tests and help prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic attacks.

Sir Simon said the technology was just ‘one example of a whole fizz of innovation which continues across the Health Service’. 

He added: ‘Living with diabetes is a daily challenge for millions of people across England and this technology has the potential to make a remarkable difference to their lives. This innovation is a prime example of the NHS’s continued progress in modern medicine and technology.’

The devices could help eliminate finger prick diabetes tests and help prevent life-threatening hypoglycaemic attacks

Professor Partha Kar, NHS national speciality adviser for diabetes, added: ‘One hundred years after the discovery of insulin, the ‘artificial pancreas’ is a potentially revolutionary development in the treatment of diabetes.

‘The NHS has long been at the forefront of clinical advances in care for major diseases, including diabetes, which have allowed patients to live longer and healthier lives.’

Sir Simon also hailed other medical advances in the health service, from new cancer treatments to drugs for spinal muscular atrophy and cystic fibrosis.

Meanwhile, other innovations mean there is a “realistic prospect” that HIV would be eliminated in this country by 2030, he said.

And ‘ground-breaking’ deals with drug companies could mean that the nation is ‘well on track to eliminating hepatitis C, ahead of the 2030 goal set by the World Health Organisation’.

Sir Simon also praised the clinical trails which have taken place in the NHS during the pandemic.

‘The latest estimate is that as a result of those, over a million lives have been saved worldwide thanks to research done in the NHS, over the course of months not years,’ he added.

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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