TeleMed Texts: Healthline Launches App as Safe Place for Breast Cancer Patients

Breast Cancer Healthline connects patients with an intimate online community.

Breast Cancer Healthline, a new app launched by Healthline with an intimate online community, connects breast cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers so they may instantly share their stories, give and receive advice and encouragement from each other, as well as find the latest news, research, and information regarding their conditions. The leading healthcare communications company designed the app to be unique from all other breast cancer forums and apps by allowing users to instantly connect one-to-one with someone in their moment of need.

Breast cancer survivor, Ann Silberman, commented on the already popular app, “My matches have been about my age and stage, so we’ve touched on our worries and fears. It’s incredibly helpful to have the matching system. Because I’m stage 4, travel is hard and without the online world, I would not be able to even talk to people with my similar diagnosis.” Breast Cancer Healthline offers peer support with many ways to connect, from one-to-one messaging to group chats, accessible anytime, anywhere.

It provides a possibility to meet other members and discuss whatever is on their mind, like self-care, nutrition, relationships, and work. In addition, users can benefit from breast cancer content that is medically reviewed, socially inspired, and data-driven all in a single destination where each member understands that they are not alone.

Doctor Docs: Physicians Give Thumbs Up to Patient Engagement Tech

95% of 200 physicians surveyed use digital waiting room screens.

A survey released by PatientPoint finds that three quarters of doctors in the U.S. agree that patient education and engagement technology help to improve the overall patient experience. Technology is increasingly necessary to better convey information and communicate with patients. As a result, 95% of 200 physicians surveyed are already using digital waiting room screens, exam room tablets, or mobile apps. These doctors also believe that the technology is helping them provide patients with enhanced education about conditions and treatments as well as get the most out of their consultation.

In addition, nearly 75% of the surveyed doctors said they’d be interested in free digital solutions tailored to their specialty funded by pharmaceutical branded advertising. PatientPoint Founder and CEO Mike Collette states, “This positive view of technology—and knowing that pharmaceutical brands can play a role—represents significant opportunities for brands to better connect with patients and physicians during the office visit as well as before and after.”

Discoveries/Innovations: New Advancement in CRISPR Gene Research

CRISPR Cas9 enzyme.

The CRISPR system for gene editing has been a hot subject for medical research the past few years due to its incredible ability to send a gene-cutting enzyme, called Cas9, to a gene on a DNA strand and make possibly disease-altering edits. MIT has made a great stride forward in this system by significantly increasing the number of locations on a DNA strand the enzyme can land.

MIT researchers discovered a Cas9 enzyme that can work with a much larger range of gene sequences that it must detect in order to land on a spot on the DNA strand. Joseph Jacobson, a professor at the MIT Media Lab and the Center for Bits and Atoms, led the team that discovered the Cas9 that can target almost half of the locations on the genome, significantly widening its potential use. “The enzyme looks almost identical to the one that was originally discovered—but it is able to target DNA sequences that the commonly used enzyme cannot,” Pranam Chatterjee, a graduate student at the lab, said in a statement.

Rather than requiring two G nucleotides, the new enzyme needs just one G, which is especially exciting in light of the fact that many diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, are caused by the mutation of a single base, making them much more difficult to target with the old Cas9 enzyme.

“Base editing is not just a matter of hitting that gene anywhere over the 1,000 bases and knocking it out; it is a matter of going in and correcting, in a very precise way, that one base that you want to change,” Jacobson explains in an MIT statement. “You need to be able to go to that very exact location, put your piece of CRISPR machinery right next to it, and then with a base editor—another protein that’s attached to the CRISPR—go in and repair or change the base.” This revolutionary tool can provide the precision needed to apply this technique to a much wider range of disease therapies.

Trend Setting: Sonic Sound Waves Meet Drug Development

AstraZeneca, with U.K. startup-supporter Medicines Discovery Catapult, is attempting to use sound waves in mass spectrometry for drug discovery applications. Mass spectrometry is a sophisticated and dependable technique of identifying molecules in a mixture, detecting impurities in a sample, and analyzing protein content by vaporizing the molecules and using sound energy to spray fine, charged particles into the analyzer without contamination or contact, at a rate of up to three samples per second. Acoustic Mist Ionisation Mass Spectrometry vastly increases speed and accuracy over traditional scientific methods using a needle to inject liquid samples into a mass detector, allowing researchers to apply the useful data to multiple samples and study several biological changes simultaneously.

“It is important for us to enable U.K. SMEs to use hard-to-access sophisticated bioanalytical technologies,” said Dr. Peter Simpson, Medicines Discovery Catapult Chief Scientific Officer, in a statement “For the first time, using the power of sound energy, this state-of-the-art technology gives our partner SMEs the potential to better understand and more rapidly advance their promising drug candidates.”

Patient Pages: Novo Nordisk and Sanofi Provide Best Patient Experiences

Along with providing the most popular diabetes drugs, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi offer patients the best digital experience, according to a study by DRG Digital. When it comes to websites, patient support, apps, and social profiles, the two giants stood apart from Merck, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and others. DRG suggested patient satisfaction stems from convenient access to digital tools seamlessly across platforms, personalized patient support, and automated tools and interactive content that fosters deeper engagement. Research also shows that 35% of patients would stay on a pharma website longer if there were videos of other patients to watch, which DRG takes to mean that pharma companies should focus on emotionally connecting with their patients. These findings show that pharma marketers have a huge opportunity to connect and serve the community of diabetes patients.

FDA Update

Drug Approvals

The FDA approved Pfizer’s Talzenna, a poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor, for women with inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation metastatic breast cancer. Locally advanced cancer is breast cancer that has spread to tissue near the breast, but not to parts of the body away from the breast. Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread to parts of the body away from the breast, such as the bones or liver. As a PARP inhibitor, the oral medication makes some cancer cells less likely to fix and therefore survive their DNA damage.

Sandoz, a Novartis division and the pioneer and global leader in biosimilars, received FDA approved for its biosimilar, Hyrimoz (adalimumab-adaz). The FDA granted approval for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) in patients four years of age and older, psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), adult Crohn’s disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC), and plaque psoriasis (Ps). This is Sandoz’ third FDA approved biosimilar.

Roche received an accelerated FDA approval for its Tamiflu successor, Xofluza. Xofluza works by inhibiting an enzyme called polymerase acidic endonuclease, stopping viral replication early. Trials showed that the drug could alleviate flu symptoms as fast as Tamiflu with a single dose, which usually requires twice daily dosing for five days. While there is not a reportedly significant difference in the limiting of flu symptoms between Xofluza and Tamiflu, it does stop the virus’s release from the body reportedly more quickly, making patients less contagious in a shorter amount of time.

The FDA approved the third migraine treatment this year to work by injecting galcanezunab, which inhibits calcitonin gene-related peptide. Eli Lilly’s Emgality will have a list price of $6,900 a year and be available to patients suffering from episodic migraines. Emgality is delivered via a once-a-month, self-administered, subcutaneous injection. Emgality is contraindicated in patients with serious hypersensitivity to galcanezumab-gnlm or to any of the excipients.

Medical Devices Update

Medtronic received FDA approval for the use of the Valiant Navion thoracic stent graft system in minimally invasive repair of all lesions of the descending thoracic aorta. This includes thoracic aortic aneurysms (TAA), blunt thoracic aortic injuries (BTAI), penetrating atherosclerotic ulcers (PAU), intramural hematomas (IMH), and aortic type B dissections (TBAD). This is the first alternative provided for patients with small iliac arteries who were considered ineligible for thoracic endovascular aneurysm repair. Valiant Navion enables a less invasive approach to treatment compared to surgical cut-down (open) procedures.


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