2 GREAT MEDICAL SCIENCE STORIES
jeanniejeanniejeannie.co.uk BLOG Wednesday 10th November 2021
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
2 GREAT MEDICAL SCIENCE STORIES
I have so much admiration for medical science. Almost daily there are always amazing breakthroughs and reports of progress in the medical world due to medical science.
Last week there were two major ones: the success of a vaccine to cut cervical cancer and the first pill to treat Covid. AMAZING!
One hopes with the progress with cancer vaccines there could eventually be a vaccine to end all cancers. Am I being too ambitious there? I hope not.
Anyway read about these two amazing breakthroughs.
Vaccine is cutting cases of cervical cancer by nearly 90%
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine is cutting cases of cervical cancer by nearly 90%, the first real-world data shows.
Cancer Research UK described the findings as “historic”, and said it showed the vaccine was saving lives.
Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by viruses, and the hope is vaccination could almost eliminate the disease.
The researchers said the success meant those who were vaccinated may need far fewer cervical smear tests too.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women around the world, killing more than 300,000 each year.
Almost nine-in-10 deaths are in low and middle income countries where there is little access to cervical cancer screening. The hope is vaccination will have an even bigger impact in those countries than wealthier nations such as the UK.
More than 100 countries have starting using the vaccine as part of World Health Organization plans to get close to eliminating cervical cancer..
In the UK, girls are offered the vaccine between the ages of 11 and 13, depending on where they live. The vaccine has also been offered to boys since 2019.
The HPV vaccine can only prevent an infection, it cannot rid the body of the virus once it has been caught. The viruses are so widespread that immunisation has to be aimed at children before they become sexually active.
What is the HPV vaccine and who can get it?
Busting the myths around sex virus HPV
‘I had no cancer symptoms but a smear saved my life’
The study, published in the Lancet, looked at what happened after the vaccine was introduced for girls in England in 2008.
Those pupils are now adults in their 20s. The study showed a reduction in both pre-cancerous growths and an 87% reduction in cervical cancer.
“The impact has been huge,” said Prof Peter Sasieni, one of the researchers at King’s College London.
The reductions were less dramatic when older teenagers were immunised as part of a catch-up campaign. This is because fewer older teenagers decided to have the jab and they may already have been sexually active.
Overall, the study estimated the HPV programme has prevented about 450 cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers.
Prof Sasieni said that was “just the tip of the iceberg” because those vaccinated were still young to be getting cancer, so the numbers would only grow with time.
Molnupiravir: First pill to treat Covid gets approval in UK
Molnupiravir is the first oral antiviral treatment for Covid to report clinical trial results.
The first pill designed to treat symptomatic Covid has been approved by the UK medicines regulator.
The tablet – molnupiravir – will be given twice a day to vulnerable patients recently diagnosed with the disease.
In clinical trials the pill, originally developed to treat flu, cut the risk of hospitalisation or death by about half.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the treatment was a “gamechanger” for the most frail and immunosuppressed.
In a statement he said: “Today is a historic day for our country, as the UK is now the first country in the world to approve an antiviral that can be taken at home for Covid.”
First oral treatment
Molnupiravir, developed by the US drug companies Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, is the first antiviral medication for Covid which can be taken as a pill rather than injected or given intravenously.
The UK has agreed to purchase 480,000 courses with the first deliveries expected in November.
Initially it will be given to both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients through a national study, with extra data on its effectiveness collected before any decision to order more.
The drug needs to be given within five days of symptoms developing to be most effective.
It’s not immediately clear how it will be distributed so quickly by the NHS. It’s thought some care homes may be offered supplies while other elderly or vulnerable patients may be prescribed it by their GP after testing positive for Covid.
Molnupiravir, developed by scientists at Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and MSD, is the first of a number of oral antiviral treatments for Covid to report clinical trial results.
The new treatment targets an enzyme that the virus uses to make copies of itself, introducing errors into its genetic code. That should prevent it from multiplying, so keeping virus levels low in the body and reducing the severity of the disease.
Merck said that approach should make the treatment equally effective against new variants of the virus as it evolves in the future.
The UK regulator, the MHRA, said the tablet had been authorised for use in people who have mild to moderate Covid and at least one risk factor for developing severe illness such as obesity, old age, diabetes or heart disease.
The organisation’s chief executive, June Raine, described it as “another therapeutic to add to our armoury against Covid-19”.
“It is the world’s first approved antiviral for this disease that can be taken by mouth rather than administered intravenously,” she said.
“This is important, because it means it can be administered outside of a hospital setting, before Covid-19 has progressed to a severe stage.”
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, warned on Wednesday of some “hard months to come” in the pandemic.
He said that while Covid cases appeared to have stabilised, deaths were rising and there were signs infections were starting to “penetrate” older age groups.
The UK recorded 41,242 Covid cases on Thursday and 214 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Chart showing that the number of daily cases are still high although have dipped recently
Earlier clinical trials of molnupiravir on 775 patients who had recently caught Covid found:
7.3% of those given the drug were hospitalised
that compares with 14.1% of patients who were given a placebo or dummy pill
there were no deaths in the molnupiravir group, but eight patients who were given a placebo in the trial later died of Covid
The results were published in a press release and have not yet been peer-reviewed.
But data suggest molnupiravir needs to be taken soon after symptoms develop to have an effect. An earlier study in patients who had already been hospitalised with severe Covid was halted after disappointing results.
In its approval document, the MHRA recommends the drug is used “as soon as possible” following a positive Covid test and within five days of symptoms onset.
Prof Penny Ward, from King’s College London, who was not involved in the study, said: “If these outcomes are replicated in the UK population, then the number of cases requiring hospital admission could be halved and the number of deaths greatly reduced.
“It seems likely that it will be restricted for use by those at highest risk of disease complications – for example older adults with heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes or cancer.”
The UK government has not disclosed how much its initial contract for 480,000 courses of molnupiravir is worth. But US authorities recently made an advance purchase of 1.7 million courses at a cost of roughly $1.2 billion, or $700 (£513) for each patient.
Other countries including Australia, Singapore and South Korea have also made purchase agreements.
Merck is the first company to report trial results of a pill to treat Covid, but other companies are working on similar treatments.
Its US rival Pfizer has started trials of two different antiviral tablets, while Swiss company Roche is working on a similar medication.
By Jim Reed
TOP TEN OF THE DAY
TOP 8 ABBA’s studio albums ranked in order of sales
It is reported that ABBA’s Voyage album is currently outselling the rest of the Top 40 combined with 118,000 chart sales over the weekend, Voyage will be ABBA’s 10th UK Number 1 album, and their first studio album to top the UK charts in 40 years.
These are ABBA’s 8 studio albums ranked in order of sales. The other No.1 album was ABBA Gold, a compilation of their greatest hits.
TITLE YEAR PEAK WEEKS MOST POPULAR SONG
1 ARRIVAL 1976 1 11 DANCING QUEEN
2 SUPER TROUPER 1980 1 9 THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL
3 ABBA: THE ALBUM 1977 1 7 TAKE A CHANCE ON ME
4 VOULEZ-VOUS 1979 1 4 DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW
5 THE VISITORS 1981 1 3 ONE OF US
6 ABBA 1975 13 0 MAMMA MIA
7 WATERLOO 1974 28 0 WATERLOO
8 RING RING 1973* N/A 0 RING RING
*Ring Ring was not officially issued in the UK until 1992.
©2021 Official Charts Company. All rights reserved.
REMEMBER: The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. – Nicolas Chamfort
INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE FOR THE DAY
“Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” — Dalai Lama
Happiness is…making continued progress with medical science.
GRANDAD’S ONE LINER JOKE OF THE DAY
“iPhones are Barbie Dolls for grown men. You carry them round, dress them up in little outfits, accessorise, & get a new one every year.” – Ricky Gervais
Love is…following your heart.
A time for ABBA’s Voyage Album…A Time for ABBA Gold Album.
1960: Lady Chatterley’s Lover sold out
Penguin’s first run of the DH Lawrence’s sexually explicit novel banned for more than 30 years sells out.
2002 Viewers of the UK music channel VH1 voted ‘I Will Always Love You’ as the most romantic song ever.
2014 The first UK TV adverts featuring the use of an electronic cigarette (vaping) were shown. While e-cigarette adverts have been on television for some time, showing the device itself was banned until a change in advertising rules which came into force ‘On This Day’.
©2021 Phil M Robinson