Susana Machado • July 6, 2018

The Friday Roundup is a collection of five stories that you need to know about each week. From policy, to innovations, look to us to keep you up to date on what’s happening in the healthcare industry.

Blood Test for Prostate Cancer Extends Lives

A new study focuses on a pricey blood test that can detect a protein variance in patients that causes resistance to an ARS inhibitor drug commonly used for treatment. The variance shows up in 10 to 20 percent of patients and is a “fork in the road for treatment.”

The study found that switching to another ARS inhibitor is unlikely to help, thus making the test useful in determining a course of treatment for the patient. Despite the findings, there are critiques of the study as it was retroactively examining real-world results rather than conducting a trial.

A Piece of the Alzheimer’s Puzzle is in Your Medicine Cabinet

A study further looked into the use of aspirin as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, using mice with a comparable condition as subjects. Scientists currently believe that the buildup of amyloid beta in the hippocampus leads to the disease, and are trying to find ways to clear the brain of the plaque buildup or prevent it from happening.

In the study, researchers found aspirin helped stimulate organelles called lysosomes that can break down the plaque. The low doses of aspirin did slow the development condition, but another study in humans will need to be conducted for more definitive conclusions.

Poor Quality Care Has a Cost

When patients receive care that does not meet the standard, they end up paying for it in more way than one. A report from the World Health Organization studied the impact of misdiagnoses, inappropriate treatment, and unsafe facilities worldwide and found poor care holds impacts health in all countries, regardless of income.

In low and middle-income countries, 10 percent of hospitalized patients develop an infection. The number is slightly lower in high-income countries at 7 percent. The report also indicated that access to care is skewed by the presence of clinics as sometimes only a fraction of the clinical are “effective” at treating its patients.

Could AR Increase Patient Engagement?

Though augmented reality is most commonly associated with its gaming applications, there are other ways to utilize the technology. Patients with chronic conditions rely of meeting with their doctors to manage their conditions, and using AR offers the patient immersive learning about the intricacies of their condition.

For example, AR could overlay certain appearances of the skin and display effects when topical ointments are applied. AR also has other applications in healthcare, like medical education apps that allow students to intimately interact with the human anatomy.

The CRISPR Switch

CRISPR, the well-known DNA editing technology, has a few issues associated with its potential use. One of which being that the stuff that actually changes the genes stays activated in the body after it’s done fixing what it is supposed to fix, meaning the tech has unknown potential side effects.

However, scientists in the U.K. may have solved this problem by developing a “switch” made of an amino acid. Other scientists have begun to tackle the same problem with different solutions like editing RNA to ensure the editing is reversible.

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