Summit, Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine to Develop Saliva Tests for COVID, Head & Neck Cancer

AURORA, Colo., Oct. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Summit Biolabs, Inc., an early-stage molecular diagnostics company specializing in saliva-based testing for COVID-19 and head & neck cancer, and the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine (CCPM) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus announced today a broad strategic collaboration involving research, development and commercialization of saliva liquid-biopsy tests for early cancer detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 and other viral contagions.

The CCPM holds one of the largest research biobanks in the United States with clinical data from more than 8.7 million de-identified patient records and plans to integrate the data with personalized genomic information.

“This partnership brings two innovative programs together to optimize COVID testing at a time when it’s desperately needed,” says Kathleen Barnes, Ph.D., Professor and Director of CCPM at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “Collaborations like this are crucial in moving research forward and advancing and expanding clinical testing to as many members of our community as possible. Working with Summit Biolabs, and leveraging technology developed by our colleagues here at the Anschutz Medical Campus, will help us achieve these goals and establish a non-invasive testing process that will benefit patients in Colorado and beyond.”

Summit Biolabs is developing breakthrough tests to improve the detection of COVID-19 and to advance the early detection of human cancers, including head & neck cancer, using simple, non-invasive saliva liquid-biopsy technology developed by Dr. Shi-Long Lu and colleagues at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Head & neck cancer has been scientifically overlooked, yet is medically important. Summit Biolabs’ research foundation and competency in head & neck cancer diagnosis enabled the company’s pivot to saliva-based testing for coronavirus, COVID-19.

“We are excited to collaborate with CCPM to develop and commercialize Summit Biolabs’ portfolio of developmental saliva or non-blood liquid-biopsy tests.” said Bob Blomquist, Chief Executive Officer at Summit Biolabs. “This collaboration broadens and strengthens Summit Biolabs’ ability to bring to market life-changing saliva liquid-biopsy tests that ultimately enable better treatment and improved outcomes for patients.”

About Summit Biolabs

Summit Biolabs is harnessing the power of saliva-based diagnostics to address critical challenges in COVID-19 and head & neck cancer testing. Founded on the discoveries of Dr. Shi-Long Lu, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Summit Biolabs is being spun out from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Summit Biolabs is pioneering early detection of head & neck cancer recurrence using a first of its kind saliva liquid-biopsy test, HNKlear. HNKlear is a proprietary, non-invasive saliva test that provides more effective, more accurate, and earlier detection of head and neck cancer recurrence than traditional diagnostic methods. Summit Biolabs is leveraging its core competencies in saliva-based molecular diagnostics and viral nucleic acid testing (i.e., oral oncogenic human papillomavirus detection) to diagnose COVID-19. Along with our clinical and laboratory partners, Summit Biolabs is developing the first comprehensive panel of highly-accurate saliva-based tests for COVID-19 infection, quantitation, and immune response. Summit Biolabs is headquartered in Aurora, Colorado.

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U.K.’s Film and TV Charity Launches Two-Year Program For Better Mental Health in Film and TV

The U.K.’s Film and TV Charity has launched the Whole Picture Program, a two-year initiative designed to to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the 200,000 people who work behind the scenes in film, TV and cinema.

The Film and TV Charity has now secured £3 million ($3.87 million) in funding from Amazon Prime Video, Banijay U.K., BBC, BBC Studios, Channel 4, IMG, ITV, Sky, Sky Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia to deliver the program that is supported by the BFI and backed by U.K. mental health charity Mind. The charity estimates that mental health problems, including staff turnover, cost the sector at least £300 million ($387 million) in losses each year.

The program will deliver a toolkit for mentally healthy productions; enhanced professional and peer support for freelancers; people skills and training guides; industry actions to improve behavior; and anti-bullying services and resources.

Alex Pumfrey, CEO of the Film and TV Charity said: “It has been a devastating year for many people in our industry, and it’s clear we cannot afford to return to ‘business as usual’. Our 2019 research showed a mental health crisis in the industry, which has only been exacerbated by the terrible effects of the pandemic.”

More than 9,000 people took part in the research last year, sharing their experiences and stories confidentially, which identified a mental health crisis within the industry. The findings revealed issues including self-harm and bullying. Since then, the pandemic has meant increased isolation and anxiety for many, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in the industry have identified the effect systemic racism and discrimination has on mental health.

“The case for improving the mental health of the industry has never been stronger or more urgent,” added Pumfrey. “This program of work is designed to turn the tide on poor mental health by enhancing the available support, changing behavior and improving ways of working; but this will need to be an industry-wide effort to create sustainable change.”

The project has been on hold for six months whilst the charity has dedicated all of its resources to responding to COVID-19, raising £6.4 million ($8.2 million), and supporting thousands of workers with grants and financial and mental wellbeing services.

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said: “Unfortunately, self-employed people, freelancers and those in the film and TV industry are among those hit hardest by coronavirus. That’s why we’re pleased to be supporting the Whole Picture Program, which will provide much-needed resource and support to the many experiencing poor mental health in the sector.”

Industry leaders are part of the program’s mental health taskforce and they will work collaboratively to adopt and champion the work both within their own organizations and widely across the sector.

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Zoom is releasing a new tool to let paid users charge for admission to online events like conferences or fitness classes



Eric S. Yuan standing in front of a sign: Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications takes part in a bell ringing ceremony at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York Reuters


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Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications takes part in a bell ringing ceremony at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York Reuters

  • Zoom is introducing OnZoom, a new way to host events — free and paid — using the popular videoconferencing tool.
  • Zoom has come to be used to host all kinds of events amid the pandemic, from board meetings and conferences to fitness classes and concerts. The new OnZoom platform includes the ability to charge for tickets, as well as a directory of public event listings.
  • Zoom is also launching a new kind of app integration, called a Zapp, that can bring information from productivity tools like Dropbox, Slack, or Asana directly into a video chat.
  • Facebook launched its own features for paid videoconferencing events over the summer.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As the pandemic drags on, Zoom is releasing a new way to host online events — importantly, now including paid events — as well as new types of apps that integrate outside business and productivity tools like Slack, Dropbox, and Asana directly into Zoom meetings, the company announced Wednesday. 

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Zoom has become a household name amid shelter in place and social distancing mandates, with users turning to the videoconferencing app to host events from board meetings and conferences to yoga classes and concerts. It’s led Zoom’s business to skyrocket, but also forced the company to rethink its ambitions beyond its original enterprise approach. 

The online event platform, called OnZoom, adds features to Zoom that make it easier to host online events — notably, by allowing event organizers to sell tickets for paid events on Zoom, thanks to an integration with PayPal. There will also be an event marketplace, where people can find and sign up for public events, free and paid.

At launch, the events platform is only available to US users, but will be available more globally next year. There’s no additional fee for paid users to try out OnZoom through the end of 2020, but Zoom says that it plans to revisit the possibility of taking a cut of ticket sales next year. 

Notably, Facebook announced something similar earlier this year, allowing businesses, creators, educators and media publishers to host paid events on Facebook Live or its Messenger Rooms app. Facebook has said it won’t collect fees from tickets sales until at least August 2021.

The catch is that you will have to be a paid Zoom user to set up events with OnZoom, with a capacity ranging from 100 attendees, up to 1,000 for enterprise users. For anything larger, users can livestream the event with a Zoom Webinar license. 

OnZoom is actually getting its first public test right out in the open: Zoom is using it to host its annual Zoomtopia user conference this week. The company bills it as being well-suited for other companies to host their own conferences, for fitness instructors to hold paid lessons, for nonprofits to set up fundraising events

As virus surges anew, Milan hospitals under pressure again

MILAN (AP) — Coronavirus infections are surging anew in the northern Italian region where the pandemic first took hold in Europe, putting pressure again on hospitals and health care workers.

At Milan’s San Paolo hospital, a ward dedicated to coronavirus patients and outfitted with breathing machines reopened this weekend, a sign that the city and the surrounding area is entering a new emergency phase of the pandemic.

For the medical personnel who fought the virus in Italy’s hardest-hit region of Lombardy in the spring, the long-predicted resurgence came too soon.


“On a psychological level, I have to say I still have not recovered,’’ said nurse Cristina Settembrese, referring to last March and April when Lombardy accounted for nearly half of the dead and one-third of the nation’s coronavirus cases.

“In the last five days, I am seeing many people who are hospitalized who need breathing support,” Settembrese said. “I am reliving the nightmare, with the difference that the virus is less lethal.”

Months after Italy eased one of the globe’s toughest lockdowns, the country is now recording well over 5,000 new infections a day — eerily close to the highs of the spring — as the weather cools and a remarkably relaxed summer of travel and socializing fades into memory. Lombardy is again leading the nation in case numbers, an echo of the trauma of March and April when ambulance sirens pierced the silence of stilled cities.

So far, Italy’s death toll remains significantly below the spring heights, hovering recently around 50 per day nationwide, a handful in Lombardy. That compares with over 900 dead nationwide one day in March.

In response to the new surge, Premier Giuseppe Conte’s government twice tightened nationwide restrictions inside a week. Starting Thursday, Italians cannot play casual pickup sports, bars and restaurants face a midnight curfew, and private celebrations in public venues are banned. Masks are mandatory outdoors as of last week.

But there is also growing concern among doctors that Italy squandered the gains it made during its 10-week lockdown and didn’t move quick enough to reimpose restrictions. Concerns persist that the rising stress on hospitals will force scheduled surgeries and screenings to be postponed — creating a parallel health emergency, as happened in the spring.

Italy is not the only European country seeing a resurgence — and, in fact, is faring better than its neighbors this time around. Italy’s cases per 100,000 residents have doubled in the last two weeks to nearly 87 — a rate well below countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Britain that are seeing between around 300 to around 500 per 100,000. Those countries have also started to impose new restrictions.

This time, Milan is bearing the brunt. With Lombardy recording more than 1,000 cases a day, the regional capital and its surroundings account for as many as half of that total. Bergamo — which was hardest hit last time and has been seared into collective memory by images of army trucks transporting the dead to

Facebook to crack down on ads that discourage vaccines

Facebook announced a new policy that prohibits advertisements on the platform that discourage people from getting vaccines, as part of a new effort to encourage people to get flu shots amid the COVID-19 pandemic.



a sign on the screen: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.


© Johanna Geron/Reuters, File
The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.

“We don’t want these ads on our platform,” Kang-Xing Jin, the company’s head of health and Rob Leathern, the director of product management, said in a blog post Tuesday.

The post added that while they already don’t allow ads featuring vaccine hoaxes, “Now, if an ad explicitly discourages someone from getting a vaccine, we’ll reject it.”

MORE: More people engage with verifiably false news outlets on Facebook now than in 2016

Moreover, the social media giant announced the launch of a new campaign to provide information about flu vaccines to users, and pledged to work with “global health partners on campaigns to increase immunization rates,” Jin and Leathern said.



a close up of a sign: The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.


© Johanna Geron/Reuters, File
The Facebook logo is displayed on a mobile phone in this picture illustration taken Dec. 2, 2019.

This effort comes as health authorities urge people to prioritize getting a flu shot this year to both prevent twin infections of the flu and coronavirus and to minimize the potential strain on resources amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook’s policy, however, stops short of banning posts or other types of content on the platform that discourages vaccines. It also does not ban political ads that “advocate for or against legislation or government policies around vaccines — including a COVID-19 vaccine,” Jin and Leathern wrote.

“We’ll continue to require anyone running these ads to get authorized and include a ‘Paid for by’ label so people can see who is behind them,” the blog post stated.

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Taysha Gene Therapies Receives Rare Pediatric Disease Designation and Orphan Drug Designation for TSHA-102 as a Treatment for Rett Syndrome

Program leverages novel miRARE platform technology used to control transgene expression on a cellular basis

TSHA-102 anticipated to submit Investigational New Drug application in 2021

Taysha Gene Therapies Inc. (Nasdaq: TSHA), a patient-centric gene therapy company focused on developing and commercializing AAV-based gene therapies for the treatment of monogenic diseases of the central nervous system in both rare and large patient populations, today announced that it has received rare pediatric disease designation and orphan drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for TSHA-102, an AAV9-based gene therapy in development for the treatment of Rett syndrome. Taysha anticipates that it will submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for TSHA-102 to the FDA in 2021.

Rett syndrome is one of the most common genetic causes of severe intellectual disability worldwide, with a prevalence of over 25,000 cases in the U.S. and European Union (EU). It is an X-linked disease that primarily occurs in females, but it can be seen very rarely in males. It is usually recognized in children between six to 18 months of age as they begin to miss developmental milestones or lose abilities they had developed. Individuals with Rett syndrome also show symptoms that include loss of speech, loss of purposeful use of hands, loss of mobility, seizures, cardiac impairments, breathing issues and sleep disturbances.

“Patients with Rett syndrome are currently managed with symptomatic treatments as there are no therapies approved to treat the underlying cause of disease,” said Berge Minassian, M.D., Chief Medical Advisor of Taysha and Chief of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern). Dr. Minassian is credited with describing the CNS isoform of the MECP2 gene which is responsible for neuronal and synaptic function throughout the brain. “Gene therapy offers a potentially curative option for patients suffering with Rett syndrome.”

Rett syndrome is caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene. TSHA-102 is designed to deliver a healthy version of the MECP2 gene as well as the miRNA-Responsive Auto-Regulatory Element, miRARE, platform technology to control the level of MECP2 expression. “TSHA-102 represents an important step forward in the field of gene therapy, where we are leveraging a novel regulatory platform called miRARE to prevent the overexpression of MECP2,” said Steven Gray, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Advisor of Taysha and Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern. “In collaboration with Sarah Sinnett, Ph.D. to develop miRARE, our goal was to design a regulated construct that allowed us to control MECP2 expression to potentially avoid adverse events that are typically seen with unregulated gene therapies.”

The FDA defines a rare pediatric disease as a serious or life-threatening disease in which the disease manifestations primarily affect individuals aged from birth to 18 years. Pediatric diseases recognized as “rare” affect under 200,000 people in the U.S. The Rare Pediatric Disease Priority Review Voucher Program is intended to address the challenges that drug companies face when developing treatments for these unique patient populations. Under this program, companies are

Public health warns of COVID-19 exposure at Trenton dentist’s office

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is warning residents of the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 at a Trenton dentist’s office after a second person linked to the business has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the health unit, two cases of the disease were linked to You Make Me Smile Dental Centre on Division Street last week. Despite these cases, the public health unit says there is low risk of exposure at the dentist’s office.

Read more:
Kingston, Belleville public health offer support to local back to school plans

As the second case has been identified, public health is asking anyone who visited the dental centre between Sept. 28 and Oct. 6 to self-monitor and to get tested if symptoms develop. If you do have symptoms and get tested, you must self-isolate for 14 days from the last visit to the dental centre, regardless of the results, the health unit said. You do not have to self-isolate unless you are showing symptoms.

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Public health said it will follow up with those considered to be at a higher risk of exposure.

“While HPEPH does not typically disclose the location of COVID-19 cases in order to protect individuals’ privacy, this information is disclosed when needed in order to meet public health objectives such as reducing the risk of further transmission,” the public health unit said in a press release Wednesday.

Read more:
No COVID-19 outbreak at Queen’s University, KFL&A medical officer of health says

The office closed voluntarily on Oct. 7 and will remain closed until Oct. 21.

There are currently six active cases of COVID-19 in the Hastings and Prince Edward regions, with 61 total cases since the pandemic began, of which 50 people have recovered and five have died.




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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It’s Tough to Change the Minds of ‘Vaccine-Hesitant’ Parents, Study Finds | Health News

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2020 (HealthDay News) — When parents have concerns about the safety of childhood vaccinations, it can be tough to change their minds, as a new study shows.

The study involved “vaccine-hesitant” parents — a group distinct from the staunch “anti-vaxxer” crowd. They have worries about one or more routine vaccines, and question whether the benefits for their child are worthwhile.

Even though those parents are not “adamantly” opposed to vaccinations, it can still be hard for pediatricians to allay their concerns, said Jason Glanz, lead researcher on the study.

So Glanz and his colleagues looked at whether giving parents more information — online material “tailored” to their specific concerns — might help.

It didn’t. Parents who received the information were no more likely to have their babies up to date on vaccinations than other parents were, the study found.

The news was not all bad. Overall, more than 90% of babies in the study were all caught up on vaccinations.

So it may have been difficult to improve upon those numbers, according to Glanz, who is based at Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Institute for Health Research in Aurora.

But, he said, it’s also possible the customized information reinforced some parents’ worries.

“It might have done more harm than good,” Glanz said.

That’s because among vaccine-hesitant parents, those who were directed to general information that was not tailored, had the highest vaccination rates — at 88%.

The findings were published online Oct. 12 in Pediatrics.

Childhood vaccination rates in the United States are generally high. But studies show that about 10% of parents either delay or refuse vaccinations for their kids — generally over safety worries.

Routine childhood vaccines have a long history of safe use, Glanz said, but some parents have questions. They may have heard that certain ingredients in vaccines are not safe, or worry that their baby is being given “too many” immunizations in a short time.

And during a busy pediatrician visit, Glanz said, it can be hard to address all those questions.

So his team tested a web-based tactic to augment routine checkups. They randomly assigned 824 pregnant women and new parents to one of three groups: One received standard vaccine information from their pediatrician; another was directed to the study website for additional, but general, information on immunizations; and the third received tailored information from the website.

That tailoring was done with the help of a survey that asked parents about their vaccine beliefs and concerns.

In the end, however, the targeted messaging flopped. It made no difference among parents overall: Across the three groups, between 91% and 93% of babies were up to date on vaccinations at 15 months of age.

And among the 98 parents who were deemed vaccine-hesitant, the tactic seemed to backfire: Only 67% of those babies were up to date compared to 88% of those whose parents received general vaccine information. The rate was 75% in the standard-care group.

Dr. Edgar Marcuse,

Man yanks out two teeth with rusty pliers after he couldn’t book dentist appointment

A desperate man resorted to yanking two of his own teeth out after being unable to book a dentist appointment.

Chris Savage performed the self-dentistry in his bedroom because he could not register with a dentist or book an emergency appointment, saying it was the ‘most horrible thing I’ve ever done.’

The 42 year old said he had been in ‘agony’ for days, saying that just touching the tooth with his rusty pair of pliers set off waves of ‘agonising pain.’

The labourer admitted he had to get ‘very drunk’ by downing eight cans of Stella Artois to mask the pain before he pulled out the first tooth. He then waited another 24 hours to pull the second out – this time sober.

Chris said he was in ‘agony’ for days

Mr Savage, from Southsea in Portsmouth, said: “I ended up having to get very drunk the first time.

“Nobody wants to take part of their own face away with a set of pliers and no real painkillers.

“I put the pliers on my tooth and the second I did that it hurt.

“So I took them away, waited five minutes, built up again and then thought I’ve just got to do it.

Chris used a rusty set of pliers to take the teeth out

“It was a proper yank, a grip and pull – there’s no mucking about once you get to the point it’s started coming out.”

Mr Savage added that though there wasn’t much blood there was ‘enough to be scary’, and that it was ‘worth the risk of infection’.

The father of three didn’t register with an NHS dentist when he moved to Portsmouth from Alton, Hants, three years ago.

The teeth Chris pulled out himself

He lost his two front teeth in a bicycle crash last year, and when he began to experience pain recently he called around 20 dental practices, none of whom were taking on new patients.

He then phoned 111, who directed him to a practice that had volunteered to do triage appointments during the pandemic to help the NHS, but was referred back to 111 when he contacted them.

“It was like a massive game of pass the parcel”, he said.

Mr Savage signed up to receive Universal Credit during lockdown, leaving him with £50 a week for food and bills, meaning he was reluctant to spend the £100 per tooth it would have cost him to have them removed privately.

Chris lost his two front teeth in a bicycle crash last year

He said: “I could’ve waited a week – borrowed money, and had it done in hygienic conditions but there was no way I could’ve waited.

“Hygiene wasn’t going through my head, it was just ‘get this out’ – but the relief was worth it.

“The squelch noise as you pull

Enclara Pharmacia Announces the Appointment of Mark Morse as CEO

Enclara Pharmacia, the market leader in comprehensive pharmacy management services to the hospice community, announced today the appointment of Mark Morse as Chief Executive Officer. He will assume day-to-day leadership of Enclara and work in partnership with its current leadership team to help reduce pharmacy costs for hospices, improve patient care, and support caregivers through digital innovation, medication access, clinical care and more.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201014005070/en/

Mark Morse, Chief Executive Officer, Enclara Pharmacia (Photo: Business Wire)

Mark succeeds Andy Horowitz, Enclara founder and CEO, who made plans to move into a strategic advisor role as part of Humana’s acquisition of the pharmacy services provider in February. In the months since, Horowitz has provided direction and leadership throughout the integration process to help bring the two companies together and ensure a smooth transition. He will continue to act as a strategic advisor as part of the Humana-Enclara agreement, and remain involved in the long-term success of the company.

“A key part of our strategic plan, established when Humana agreed to acquire Enclara, was that I would transition into an advisory role when it made the most sense,” Horowitz said. “I believe we have reached a point where it is time for a new leader to execute on the roadmap we have established. I’m really proud of the entire Enclara team and the company we have built together, and I am confident in how Mark will lead Enclara into the future.”

Before joining Enclara, Morse most recently served as Humana’s vice president of Pharmacy Service Operations, overseeing a team of approximately 3,000 associates in 16 domestic and overseas locations. Under his leadership, Humana was named the best in Mail Order Pharmacy Customer Satisfaction in the J.D. Power U.S. 2020 Pharmacy Study, the third consecutive year Humana received this honor. Throughout his over 30-year career, Morse has also led the strategy and operations for many large-scale sales, systems and customer-focused initiatives.

“Andy and his team have built an amazing company, which serves a critical and noble need in the market and for the patients it serves,” Morse said. “I care deeply about advancing both Enclara’s growth and hospices’ capacity to provide quality end-of-life care. My goal is to leverage Humana’s scale and resources to help Enclara deliver timely and cost-effective pharmacy solutions while maintaining what makes Enclara uniquely Enclara.”

Morse’s previous roles at Humana include serving as practice leader for pharmacy benefit management sales, generating an additional $50M in annual revenue. He was also sales director for national and major accounts. Prior to joining Humana in 2001, Morse spent six years with United Healthcare, serving as the business owner for its consumer portal and operations director for health plan and systems migrations. Morse holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Systems from Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, America’s first technological research university.

About Enclara Pharmacia

Enclara Pharmacia is a national full-service PBM and mail order supplier of medications and clinical services developed specifically for the