Health matters in the UK and international news media
Health related news being covered in the UK and international press continues to focus on Covid-19 and moves to quickly find a vaccine to stop the disease.
There was one article I saw in today’s Guardian newspaper by Oliver Holmes, however, that I thought might be worth sharing with your readers since the article concentrated on diabetes and a possible “cure.”
Here is the story, quoted in full:
“An Israeli company claiming to have created a tiny micro-pancreas that can “cure” diabetes for millions of people has said it will submit a request next month for human clinical trials in the UK.
“Betalin Therapeutics said its “bio-artificial” pancreas aims to free patients of the need for insulin injections and blood sugar monitoring. It is designed for people with type 1 type 2 diabetes who require insulin.
“The Jerusalem-based firm told the Guardian it would provide a plan for clinical trials to Britain’s regulatory agency in August. Betalin aims to begin human testing early next year, with the hope of delivering to the market by 2024.
“Central to the innovation is a biological scaffold, adapted from pig lung tissue that holds beta cells. Those cells release insulin based on the patient’s blood sugar levels. The miniature artificial pancreas, just visible to the naked eye, is implanted under the skin on the thigh using local anaesthesia.
“Our unique technology allows the body to heal itself,” said Nikolai Kunicher, the chief executive of Betalin. “For now, the focus is on diabetes, but there are many more diseases that we intend to cure with the aid of this technology.”
“More than 460 million people live with diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation, although not all have been diagnosed. A 2016 study by the World Health Organization found the metabolic disorder was the seventh most common cause of death, above road injury.
“Betalin’s technology was developed by Prof Eduardo Mitrani of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Life Sciences.
“The company said it chose to conduct tests in Britain because the country had already approved another diabetes treatment, called the Edmonton Protocol, in which beta cells are implanted on the liver. But Betalin said its micro-pancreas would be more robust, longer-lasting, and cheaper, although its still likely to coast more than $40,000 (£31,000).
Comment: Much too costly for use in the Solomon Islands but if successful one would hope the technology could one day be used at home to provide a much needed cure for the many suffering from diabetes.
“Trials are planned in several hospitals affiliated with the Leeds and Newcastle universities, with Omar Masood, a UK transplant surgeon with experience in combatting diabetes, directing the project.
“This has the potential to affect up to 400,000 people in the UK,” he said.
Betalin’s advisory committee includes two Nobel laureates in chemistry, both of whom have diabetes – Sidney Altman of Yale University and Arieh Warshel of the University of South Carolina.
“It has received grants amounting to about £4.5m from the EU and raised more than £6m from Chinese, US and Israeli investors.”
Meanwhile, returning to the press coverage on Covid-19, the UK’s Evening Standard had an article written 2 days ago by April Roach.
Here is an extract of her story, quote:
“The head of the UK's vaccine taskforce has said there is a "possibility" a coranavirus vaccine could be rolled out by Christmas.
“It usually takes up to two years for a new medicine to gain approval from the European Medicines Agency and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
“But Katie Bingham, who was appointed chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce in May, has told The Daily Telegraph that a coronavirus vaccine could be put in the "emergency use" category and become available early.
“She said by engaging regulators at an early stage, "everything can be done much more quickly".
“The virus could be potentially rolled out before it has been authorised by regulators, which would reduce the timeframe to around 70 days, said Ms Bingham.
“It comes after Oxford University scientists successfully completed the second phase of developing a vaccine.
“Ministers have already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca, which is working with Oxford University, to be rushed out in the UK if it gets the all-clear.
“Ms Bingham told CNN the unprecedented pace at which vaccines were being developed during the pandemic was possible because the "funding has been unlocked to allow these trials and manufacturing to take place before we know whether or not the vaccine is going to work".
“She explained that Oxford's "encouraging results" were continuing as they have already vaccinated 8,000 people in their phase three study.
"That is highly unusual," Ms Bingham said. "Normally you would do things sequentially and here things are being doing in parallel. But that is not short-cutting any safety measures.
"Nothing is being done that would compromise a patient's safety."
“When asked about the possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the year, she said: "It's a possibility but it's no more than a possibility. We've got to have a lot of things go right for that to be correct.
"We have to take the wonderful data we've seen from Oxford so far and continue that study to show that Oxford vaccine can be both safe and effective in preventing infection or reducing the symptoms of infection.
"The second thing that has to be done is to ensure that we can actually manufacture enough of it - that is underway at the moment.
"The final thing that has to happen is we have to have the regulatory approval. In the UK that's the MHRA or the European Medicines Agency have to approve this as being safe to use before we can get the vaccine."
“She added that manufacturing was happening "at risk" because they don't know for sure if the vaccine will work.
“When pressed further to provide a timescale for rolling out a vaccine, Ms Bingham said: "The global picture is that I don't think there will be any vaccines before next year.
"There will be some early vaccines - if everything goes right - potentially at the end of this year."
End of quote: