This week we look at the doctors creating a personalized medicine to help a specific patient who had exhausted all other options. We also highlight options for using data to support Medicare drug pricing negotiation, large scale DNA sequencing projects in infants, and efforts to use genome sequencing to fight endemic diseases. Finally, we look at the potential for connected devices, already being used by families, to give better real-time insights into public health.
Each week we highlight five things affecting the life sciences industry. Here’s the latest.
A young patient in the UK was facing dire outcomes after her cancer was not stopped by chemotherapy or any other standard available treatment. However, her doctors were not willing to give up and instead began work on creating a one-off gene therapy that would create T-cells designed specifically for her cancer.
With the signature of the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare gained new powers to begin negotiating drug prices in the coming years. These negotiations will target drugs that represent a large share of Medicare spending and meet several other criteria. What is currently unknown is how, exactly, they will manage these negotiations. Now researchers are proposing approaches that the federal government could use to align the prices they pay with independent analysis of the benefits of those drugs.
To sequence the first human genome, it took decades and billions of dollars. Now, it can be done at scale for under $1,000 a patient. Two new projects, one in the United States and one in the UK, will use this new affordability to sequence the genes of a large number of newborns. The goal of each project is to identify genetic disorders early so that doctors and families can treat and avert the worst outcomes, but also raise complex ethical issues.
One of the keys to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic was the work of scientists to sequence the virus’s genome and then monitor as it changed over time. Now the labs and infrastructure built to support that effort are being applied to endemic diseases in Africa and Asia to better equip public health responses.
It doesn’t take an epidemiologist to know that this year’s flu, cold, RSV and COVID season are all in full swing. Just ask any parent of a school-aged child. Now, researchers are looking at whether the wealth of data generated by internet of things devices in the home, like app-enabled thermometers, can help public health officials spot upticks in these illnesses faster than reports coming from doctors’ offices and schools.