Trend Setting: Cross Between VR, Fitness, and Wearables

YUR, a virtual reality developer focused on fitness, has launched a VR watch that records fitness data while in VR mode. Just as people are searching for ways to stay fit and entertained indoors during this pandemic, the VR fitness tracking program created a virtual watch that tracks health statistics while playing VR games.

“This is a literal game-changer; games will be played completely differently from a fitness point of view,” YUR Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Dilan Shah tells Forbes. The idea is to make gameplay more fitness motivated, allowing users of the Oculus VR device to get a real workout in while playing a fun game. For instance, in One Hamsa’s game Racket NX, which is like virtual rackquet-ball inside a giant pinball machine, users will be able to include squats into their gamplay in order to keep their heart rate up.

The virtual watch tracks heart rate, activity level, daily calorie goals, and even integrates to iOS and Android for easier fitness tracking. This is the first time a “wearable” has been designed purely for the virtual world. The company believes that during social distancing, this type of fitness and gameplay will become extremely popular, and remain a useful tool for exercise motivation in the future.

With the watch, the YUR team hopes to encourage users to more deeply integrate exercise into their gameplay, creating a feedback loop between fun and fitness. Already, more than five million workouts have been logged by over 60,000 users on the YUR platform. “In light of COVID-19, we are hoping that those who previously didn’t see VR as an option for them are able to see the technology in a new light,” Shah told Forbes.

Discoveries/Innovations: Family History is an Important Component of Colorectal Cancer

It is already known that many are not screened early enough to detect colorectal cancer. This type of cancer develops in the large intestine, starting as noncancerous polyps on the colon that can be removed before they turn cancerous if they are detected by a regular colonoscopy screening. However, new data shows that almost all participants in a study who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 40 and 49 years of age, could have been diagnosed earlier if they had been screened according to current family history-based screening guidelines. The American Cancer Society flags family history as one of the most important risk factors for colorectal cancer, with an individual being up to four times as likely to develop the disease if they’ve had a parent, sibling, or child diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

The investigators at the University of California, San Diego, found that 25% of patients with colorectal cancer met the criteria for family history-based early screening. Almost 98% of these patients should have been screened at a younger age than when their cancer was diagnosed, meaning that their cancer could’ve been diagnosed earlier or even prevented if they had followed the family history-based early screening guidelines.

Since family history changes over time, it may be hard for a physician to spot a candidate for early screening. That’s why it is important to spread awareness about the importance of screening and the high-risk factors such as this.

Patient Pages: Pandemic Has Helped Pharma’s Reputation

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are happier with the pharma industry than ever before, combatting its usual bad rap. According to a Harris Poll, 33% of respondents had a more positive view of the industry between March 21 and 23. That number has now risen to 40%, so outlooks keep getting better. The Harris Poll also tracks other industry perceptions. Healthcare workers ranked highest, with 65% of consumers citing a more positive view of that industry, followed by grocery retailers (53%) and technology (41%). Pre-COVID-19 data from January and February shows that only 32% of Americans had a positive view of the pharma industry at the time. Considering the unsavory attention pharma has received with drug pricing as a recent hot topic, to be ranked alongside technology in consumer perception is a significant reputation boost.

“It’s particularly relevant to see both of those industries on par,” Rob Jekielek, Managing Director, Harris Poll, told FiercePharma. “It fits into the broader narrative that during COVID-19 people are better able to get their heads around what a pharmaceutical company does and can do.”

TeleMed Text: Apple and Google Team Up to Develop Tracer App

If there is a possibility of returning to a somewhat normal lifestyle before a COVID-19 cure is produced, those carrying the virus—both symptomatic and asymptomatic—must remain in quarantine. Apple and Google are teaming up to develop an app that will help trace those who are contaminated in hopes of identifying those who must be isolated from the rest of their community. The process starts with healthcare workers asking their positive testing patients who they have come into contact with and then finding these people, which becomes a tedious, yet crucial, task.

The app can help this by using Bluetooth signals to track who has been near who. For example, if someone has tested positive with COVID-19, they mark this on the app. The app can then warn anyone the person has come close to with their phone in the past two weeks by storing their Bluetooth signals, which it is constantly recording when in proximity to other phones. Using smartphones this way would not replace traditional contact tracing, but would expand its reach “because you may not remember who you were on the bus with, or you may not have known those people,” Dr. Louise Ivers, Executive Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Global Health, tells NPR.

To make this a possibility, Apple and Google are working together to make sure their Bluetooth networks cooperate across their phones. While the companies don’t yet know how many people would need to opt into the app to make it effective, their customer base includes three billion people around the globe, offering the most potential to build a sufficient user pool. Of course, the tech giants are faced with the privacy concerns of citizens. But they assure people they are only tracking proximity to other Bluetooth signals, not the location of where the signals came into contact. Apple and Google say they’ll be launching this system by next month.

FDA Update

Drug Approvals

The FDA approved Pemazyre, Incyte Corporation’s drug for the treatment of adults with previously treated, unresectable locally advanced or metastatic cholangiocarcinoma with a fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) fusion.

Tukysa (tucatinib), developed by Seattle Genetics, was granted FDA approval for adult patients with advanced unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, including patients with brain metastases, who have gone through one or more prior anti-HER2-based regimens.

The FDA approved mitomycin, UroGen Pharma’s Jelmyto, for adult patients with low-grade upper tract urothelial cancer. Doses of Jelmyto are received in series via ureteral catheter or nephrostomy tube.

Celgene (now a part of Bristol Myers Squibb) received approval for Zeposia to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS) including clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease. The capsule is taken once daily to reduce risk of relapse and episodes of worsening function (relapses) followed by recovery periods.

Med Device Approvals

The FDA approved a new indication for Boston Scientific’s Venous Wallstent, intended to treat a narrowed vein in the upper pelvic region down to the groin area. The extended approval now applies to the iliofemoral vein, which narrows due to blood clots that can form along the lining of the veins following a deep vein thrombosis (post-thrombotic syndrome) or the squeezing of the vein between a bone and an overlying artery, called iliofemoral compression.

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