Flu is on the rise, and the UK’s covid scientists are now shifting their focus to find the best medical treatments to fend off the winter virus – by running a trial across 150 hospitals and thousands of patients to test antiviral tablets that are designed to reduce the severity of infection.
The trial – titled the Randomised, Embedded, Multi-factoral, Adaptive Platform Trial for Community-Acquired Pneumonia (Remap-Cap) – is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, and the success of treatments will be measured based on how effective they are at reducing deaths and intensive care admissions. Antivirals that prove ineffective will be dropped from the trial and replaced with new ones.
A new treatment called darolutamide – aimed at extending the lives of patients whose prostate cancer has spread to other parts of their body – is to be made available by NHS England in weeks, making it the first healthcare provider in Europe to offer the drug.
There are 9000 men who will be eligible for treatment with the new drug, known by its brand name Nuqeba. The drug works by blocking androgen receptors in cancer cells, which in turn blocks the cancer-multiplying effect of testosterone. Studies have shown that those using darolutamide have seen their chances of living longer increase by a third.
Researchers have found that men eating a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes can reduce the risk of bowel cancer by more than a fifth – but the same has not been found to be true for women.
The study involved 79,952 men in the US, and showed that those who ate the largest proportion of healthy plant-based foods had a 22% lower risk of bowel cancer than those who ate the least. For the 93,475 women who participated in the study, no such link was found, perhaps partly due to the fact women have a lower overall risk of bowel cancer.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London has launched a pioneering method of rapidly conducting a large number of surgical procedures – a system they are referring to as high-intensity theatre (HIT).
Modelled on the performance of a Formula One pitstop team, the idea is to perform precision-planned, swift operations with a high-speed changeover. As a result, the team completed eight prostate cancer operations by 5pm on one day last month, whereas they would usually have only been able to do three by 7:30pm under the standard system. This system could be applied to any number of surgical procedures, with the goal of helping clear the surgical backlog caused in part by the pandemic.
A UK experiment that aims to find new ways of manufacturing materials to be used for medicines and metal alloys has been launched to the International Space Station (ISS).
The Particle Vibration experiment will involve astronauts on the ISS using equipment developed by the University of Strathclyde and UK firm QinetiQ to create completely new types of metal alloys, non-metallic conductors, plastics, and ‘macromolecular’ substances that can be used to produce medicines – for example, protein crystals that could be used in vaccine delivery.