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Bio-Artificial Liver Approved for Clinical Trials in China

Interesting Engineering | Health & Medical Care

Bio-Artificial Liver Approved for Clinical Trials in China

“A stem-cell-based artificial liver created by researchers at the Southern Medical University has now been approved for clinical trials by regulators in China. If the problems are cleared successfully, the novel approach could help millions of people battling liver failure worldwide.”

From Interesting Engineering.

Nature | Vaccination

How Cancer Vaccines Could Keep Tumors from Coming Back

“Angela Evatt lay face down under anaesthesia as surgeons removed a malignant mole from her back and a lymph node from her left armpit. The purpose of the operation was not only to excise the cancerous tissue from her body, but also to begin the process of crafting a personalized vaccine that would train Evatt’s immune system to attack any tumour cells left behind.

The vaccine uses messenger RNA (mRNA), carefully constructed to encode the unique mutant proteins, known as neoantigens, that are found on the surface of Evatt’s melanoma skin cancer cells…

As is typical of individual experiences in clinical trials, determining the precise impact of the vaccine on Evatt’s recovery is difficult. ‘It’s impossible to know,’ she says. ‘I’m just happy to be cancer-free.’ However, the trial that Evatt participated in is yielding promising data. According to the latest number-crunch from the 157-person study, the combination of vaccine and checkpoint inhibitor reduces the risk of disease recurrence by nearly 50% compared with treatment with the inhibitor alone. The latest analysis also indicates that the vaccine contributes to lifespan extension.”

From Nature.

Wall Street Journal | Health & Medical Care

OpenAI Expands Healthcare Push with Color Health’s Cancer Copilot

“Color Health, which was founded as a genetic testing company in 2013, has developed an AI assistant or ‘copilot’ using OpenAI’s GPT-4o model. The copilot helps doctors create cancer screening plans, as well as pretreatment plans for people who have been diagnosed with cancer…

Color’s copilot uses OpenAI APIs, or application programming interfaces, which are how developers access the OpenAI models to use in their applications. The startup, like most developers, pays OpenAI based on usage of tokens, or word segments, that are sent to its models and back, Laraki said.

By ingesting patient data such as personal risk factors and family history, and using them alongside clinical guidelines, the copilot creates a virtual, personalized cancer screening plan that tells doctors the diagnostic tests a patient is missing. 

‘Primary care doctors don’t tend to either have the time, or sometimes even the expertise, to risk-adjust people’s screening guidelines,’ Laraki said.

The copilot also assists with putting a cancer pretreatment ‘work-up’ together, after a doctor has made a diagnosis. The work-up can consist of specialized imaging and lab tests, plus prior authorization from health insurance to order the tests, all of which can take weeks, or months, before a patient sees an oncologist. Studies show a month’s delay can increase mortality by 6% to 13%, Laraki said.”

From Wall Street Journal.

The Guardian | Noncommunicable Disease

New Blood Test May Detect Parkinson’s Years before Onset

“To develop the test, scientists at UCL and the University of Göttingen used a machine learning algorithm to spot a signature pattern of eight blood proteins in patients with Parkinson’s. The algorithm was then able to predict future Parkinson’s in other patients who provided blood samples. In one patient, the disorder was correctly predicted more than seven years before symptoms arose. ‘It is possible that it could go back even further,’ said Dr Jenny Hällqvist, at the UCL Institute of Neurology, and first author on the study published in Nature Communications.

Prof Roger Barker, a consultant neurologist who specialises in Parkinson’s at the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s hospital, said if validated by other groups, the test raised the possibility of diagnosing Parkinson’s at the very earliest stages, enabling patients to be enrolled in clinical trials when the disease process had just begun.”

From The Guardian.